Sandia LabNews

Early-career researcher represents Sandia at inaugural National Research SLAM

Image of 2023_NLSLAM_bodyimage
CONNECTING SCIENCE AND POLITICS — National SLAM participants meet with Sen. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Blaise Douros, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

In three minutes and armed with a single slide, postdoctoral researchers have the opportunity to explain their motivation, their results and the significance of their research to a nonspecialty audience and a panel of judges.

The group of 17 early-career research finalists gathered in the Congressional Auditorium in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, to present their innovative research at the inaugural National Lab Research SLAM. Finalists presented in four research categories: Energy Security, National Security, Environmental Resilience and Scientific Discovery, representing each of the 17 DOE national labs.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee and Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico opened the inaugural event with remarks. Jean-luc Doumont, a renowned expert in research communication, served as the evening’s emcee.

Megan Dahlhauser, a postdoctoral researcher in quantum computer science, represented Sandia with her presentation on when computers fail. Megan described the SLAM event as an unforgettable experience and encourages others to participate.

“The most rewarding part was the wonderful group of people I got to meet as part of the event. I learned so much from everyone, from infinitely cool science being done by amazing scientists, to fascinating details about how Congress really works in practice,” Megan said.

When computers fail

Quantum computers are a proposed solution to computational challenges that modern computers fail to solve. Quantum computers, however, are currently in early stages of development and experience lots of failures of their own. Megan and her team focus on tracking and understanding those failures.

“This work helps us learn more about quantum computers and leads us to discover ways to help progress quantum computers to the next generations,” Megan said. 

Image of 2023_NLSLAM__03bodyimage
TAKING CENTER STAGE — Postdoctoral reasearcher Megan Dahlhauser presents her research at the inaugural National Lab Research SLAM. (Photo courtesy of Blaise Douros, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
Image of 2023_NLSLAM__02bodyimage
EMBRACING THE SPOTLIGHT — National SLAM participants stand before judges and the audience. (Photo courtesy of Blaise Douros, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

National SLAM fosters a long-lasting network for researchers

Tracie Durbin, postdoctoral program lead, said the event builds long-lasting community for researchers.

“We have been carrying out multilab SLAMs with other laboratories in California and New Mexico for the past three years. We built cohorts of postdocs across these labs that are still communicating with each other today,” she said. “It is important for researchers to have a diverse network that they can pull on in the future. These cohorts of postdocs built strong relationships based on a shared goal that should pay off for our nation in the future.”

The National Lab Research SLAM was livestreamed for audience members. Learn more about the SLAM event, finalists and judges at the National Lab Research

Recent articles by Sophia Horowitz