Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Communicating what we do

Clear science has value—and national security implications.
October 1, 2018
Looking up at the NSSB and sky from the ground.

National Security Science magazine highlights work in the weapons and other national security programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory.


Weapons Programs will continue to deliver on its mission in a safe, successful, and timely manner. - Bob Webster

By Bob Webster, Principal Associate Director, Weapons Programs

During a recent panel that celebrated women’s contributions to Laboratory science and mission, the conversation turned to mentoring. Kathy Prestridge, team leader for the extreme fluids team in the Physics Division, stressed the importance of communication with young staff. She was quick to point out, however, that communication can be really difficult. 

“A lot of us who go into science don’t usually think: I’m a really good communicator—I think I’ll be a physicist,” she joked.

Kathy’s words resonated with me because they’re true. Los Alamos is lucky to have many of the world’s brightest scientists and engineers working together on this New Mexico mesa top, but if people outside the Laboratory can’t decipher our science and figure out how it might apply to the real world, then they won’t understand its value.

Science must be communicated in a way people can understand, which is why the Laboratory publishes National Security Science magazine. NSS highlights the work of Weapons Programs at Los Alamos—work that is essential to maintaining national and global security.

This issue—our first in more than a year—offers content for every type of reader. History buffs will enjoy “Queen of the Hill” about Jane Hall, the Lab’s first female assistant director who worked on Clementine, the world’s first fast reactor. Members of our military might relate to “Salt Life” in which a former Navy officer-turned-Lab employee recounts a 70-day patrol onboard an Ohio-class submarine that has the capability to launch the Los Alamos-designed W76 and W88 nuclear warheads. And if the phrase “world’s fastest X-ray machine” intrigues you, click here to learn about the Lab’s DARHT facility and our B61 Life Extension Program.

In addition to translating science into a language we can all understand, these pages show the incredible depth and diversity of the Los Alamos workforce. From the five young staff members profiled here to Weapons Programs veteran Donald Sandoval, we have nearly 12,000 intelligent, capable employees dedicated to our national security mission. I hope you enjoy learning about these people and their essential work in this issue of National Security Science.

Lastly, as the Laboratory nears the end of its 75th year of service to the nation, a new contractor will take over management and operations starting November 1. Triad National Security is comprised of Battelle Memorial Institute, The Texas A&M University System, and the University of California—and, like current contractor Los Alamos National Security, is committed to scientific excellence. Although the Laboratory will experience some reorganization and changes as a result of the transition, Weapons Programs will continue to deliver on its mission in a safe, successful, and timely manner. For the next 75 years and beyond, we will continue to solve national security challenges using the world’s best science.

Photo of a man laughing.

Bob Webster, principal associate director for Weapons Programs.