Sandia LabNews

National achievement awards go to two Sandia engineers

Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers recognizes top talent

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LAUDABLE LEADERSHIP — Materials scientist Patrick Feng received a Professional Achievement Award from the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers for his leadership in developing radiation-detection materials. (Photo courtesy of Sandia Labs)

Sandia scientists Patrick Feng and Thushara Gunda recently were honored with national achievement awards by the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. The awards recognize recipients’ leadership and accomplishments in STEM.

Patrick, a materials scientist, received a Professional Achievement Award, 10-plus years, for his leadership in developing radiation-detection materials. Patrick has guided several innovative technologies from early-stage research and development to commercial availability. His prolific advancements in radiation-detection materials and devices have resulted in 10 U.S. patents.

Specifically, Patrick’s work on neutron and gamma-ray detection has extended the reliability and lifespan of radiation detectors used in nuclear nonproliferation applications addressing performance and environmental aging issues through a chemistry approach. He also has served as a project lead and contributor for end-to-end design, qualification, production and deployment of multiple sensor-architecture systems.

Currently, Patrick leads a team of 15 technical staff members and has mentored nine undergraduates, two graduate students and two postdoctoral researchers. In addition to his work at the Labs, he shares his passion for science by volunteering with the Quest Science Center in Livermore, California, and participating in local science outreach activities with children.

“When you’re lucky enough to enjoy your work and those you work with, good things happen,” Patrick said. “Developing solutions to complex engineering challenges takes an interdisciplinary team that values everyone’s perspective equally. To be recognized by SASE for our great teamwork in solving national security challenges is truly fulfilling.”

Thushara, a systems research analyst, earned a Promising Professional Achievement Award, 2-10 years, for her advances in water security, energy resilience and anticipatory science.

Combining social science insights with physical sciences and engineering activities, Thushara advances tools and techniques to discover patterns and knowledge made possible by her innovative approach integrating disciplines and data. Her novel approaches have generated collaborations with government agencies, national laboratories, industry partners and universities.

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PROMISING PROFESSIONAL — Thushara Gunda earned a Promising Professional Achievement Award from the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers for her work in water security, energy resilience and anticipatory science. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

Thushara also led the establishment of a Sandia community of practice focused on analytics for climate and earth sciences and co-leads a multilaboratory effort focused on water-energy information exchanges. She serves as the New Mexico Water Data Initiative’s technical working group lead, is an external advisory board member for the Hantush-Deju National Center for Hydrological Innovation at New Mexico Tech and is an American Geophysical Union committee member for diversity and inclusivity initiatives. She generously shares her knowledge through peer-reviewed papers, technical reports, conferences, workshops and seminar presentations.

Outside of her robust work efforts, Thushara mentors early career STEM hopefuls, volunteers at the New Mexico Future City Competition — a national STEM competition for middle school students — and is a leader in the Asian employee resource group, working to help build a more inclusive culture at Sandia.

“Having the flexibility and support to explore integrating ideas across disciplines with data help advance solutions at the nexus of social, environmental and engineering puzzles,” Thushara said. “This award helps underscore the many creative minds working together on these projects. Being at Sandia truly helped us all connect with each other around a common purpose.”

“In addition to honoring two of Sandia’s enterprising and hardworking researchers, these SASE awards highlight the power of belonging in developing smart solutions to complex engineering matters,” said Larry P. Thomas, Sandia’s chief diversity officer. “Bringing together diverse ideas and experiences delivers real results at the highest levels.”

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