Q&A with Kevin Griffin: Celebrating Black History Month and STEM

(Download Image) In honor of Black History Month, Livemore Laboratory employee Kevin Griffin shares his background and perspective on engaging underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
In honor of Black History Month, the African-American Body of Laboratory Employees (ABLE) and the Office of Strategic Diversity Programs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will be highlighting the accomplishments of several members of our African American employee population. They will share their background and perspective on engaging underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.


As a champion for the Department of Energy's Minorities in Energy Initiative, Tony Baylis, director of the Office of Strategic Diversity Programs, is aiding the initiative by calling attention to the critical need for greater diversity in STEM professions and education.

Key individuals will be featured throughout the month of February in a Q&A series with the overarching theme "Supporting Diversity in the Sciences and in STEM Education."

The first Q&A in the series features Kevin Griffin. Griffin has worked at LLNL since 2007. He is a computer scientist working in the Global Security Computing Applications Division. Griffin splits his time between research and software development in both computer network security and visualization.

Q&A with Kevin Griffin:

Q: Why did you choose to work at LLNL?

A: When I was making my decision to work at the Lab it was in 2007, right before all of the major contract changes. The possibility of fusion energy, supercomputers, great weather and a very vibrant and collegiate-feeling environment made it a very easy choice.

Q: What is your educational background?

I attended the University of Delaware for my bachelor's, the University of Tulsa for my master's and I'm currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of California, Davis. All degrees are in computer science.

Q: What inspired you to work in a STEM area?

A: I always had an affinity for computers, math and science, so the STEM area was a natural fit.

Q: What excites you about your work at LLNL?

A: Working on novel solutions to some of the most challenging issues in cyber security like supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and continuous network mapping/situational awareness.

Q: What is the most helpful tip or insight that anyone has given you about working at the Lab?

Diversify your skill set with an eye on what technology is popular (or gaining popularity) in industry to improve your chances of being able to move between projects or to private industry given some unfortunate event (i.e. lost funding or involuntary separation).

Q: How can our country engage more underrepresented groups in STEM?

A: Unfortunately a significant portion of underrepresented groups live in areas where educational resources, to include teachers, school resources and infrastructure, are inadequate at best. So, the initial engagement will have to address these disparities to level the educational playing field. Once that is accomplished, incorporating STEM programs/activities early in the educational process is key for shaping minds and attitudes about STEM and providing the foundation for students to be successful at the secondary school level. At the middle and high school levels, STEM curriculum and clubs (i.e., robotics, computer science) need to be developed into the core curriculum for all schools and not just a selective few. If the school itself doesn't have the necessary infrastructure, then coordination with local junior and/or community colleges should be made possible. The end result will be well informed and prepared students in STEM that could potentially lead to an exponential increase in the choosing of STEM majors and careers within these underrepresented groups. So, to answer the question, our country can engage more underrepresented groups in STEM by:

1. Leveling the educational playing field

2. Introducing STEM early and often

3. Strengthening the STEM curriculum in secondary schools that leverages, when needed, the talent and resources of local community colleges.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are running, playing basketball at LLNL and riding my Suzuki GSXR-1000.