Sandia LabNews

Postdoc Technical Showcase

Annual event connects postdocs and leaders, recognizes mentors

Martha Gross presents her winning poster
TOP TECH — Martha Gross presents her first-place winning poster, “Interfacial Engineering in Sodium Batteries,” during the 2019 Postdoctoral Technical Showcase. (Photo by Bret Latter)

Sandia’s Albuquerque campus hosted its 2019 Postdoctoral Technical Showcase at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in December. The annual event brings together early-career postdoctoral scientists and engineers with Labs’ leaders and decision-makers for a technical poster competition and mentor awards.

The showcase, sponsored by the Sandia Postdoctoral Development Board, offers postdocs a venue to demonstrate their work and find opportunities to advance their careers. Sandia currently has 258 postdoctoral employees in New Mexico and California.

The event featured 46 posters, including 15 from Los Alamos National Laboratory postdocs, who have been invited to participate in the annual Sandia event since 2015. The posters are judged on four criteria: scientific content, poster presentation, research complexity and oral presentation.

Martha Gross earned first place in the contest with her poster, “Interfacial Engineering in Sodium Batteries.” Runners-up were Mary Alice Cusentino for “Machine Learned Interatomic Potentials for Studying Plasma Material Interactions” and LANL postdoc Alejandra Londoño-Calderon for “Crystallographic Orientation of 1D & 2D Tellurium from 4D Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy.”

Steve Younger and Anne Ruffing
FUNDING CHAMP — Former Labs Director Steve Younger, left, presents Anne Ruffing with the Distinguished Mentor Award for New Mexico. (Photo by Bret Latter)

In addition to the poster submissions, postdoctoral employees were invited to nominate their mentors, advisors or managers for a Distinguished Mentor Award by submitting a short essay describing how the nominee models Sandia’s priorities to ensure that postdocs have the best experience possible and are prepared for their next career move.

A record 12 mentors from New Mexico and nine from California were nominated for the award, marking the first time the pool was large enough to warrant a winner at each site.

New Mexico Distinguished Mentor Anne Ruffing earned her award for encouraging her student to apply for a grant on a research idea and working off the clock on weekends to help get the project funded.

Isaac Ekoto receives his mentor award
RESEARCH FOCUS — From left, Paul Miles joins California Distinguished Mentor Award winner Isaac Ekoto, nominator Sayan Biswas and Christopher Moen for a photo. (Photo by Randy Wong)

California Distinguished Mentor Isaac Ekoto earned the title for easing the complications associated with being a Foreign National postdoc and fostering a research-focused academic publishing route for his nominator.

Former Labs Director Steve Younger presented certificates to the winners of the poster competition and mentor awards during the showcase.