All eyes on Tanim Islam

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Tanim Islam. Photo by Blaise Douros/LLNL.

For Tanim Islam, a physicist in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL)  Design Physics Division, mentorship means improving systems that serve as barriers to employees as they acclimate and begin to work. One of his passions is looking closely at whether employees have suitable structures to accomplish their tasks.

“I make a point to talk to newer staff about what sort of help they might need and whether they have the right tools to do their job,” he said. “I’m not afraid to speak my mind when I can see that having access to a certain tool or reduction of some bureaucratic process would not only improve new staff scientists’ lives, but it would also improve their work.”

Islam’s passion for innovating on tradition expands outside the Lab into his personal life. He is a hobby Python programmer and regularly attends Python meetups to learn and share with others.

“It’s a great way for me to exercise new techniques, and lo and behold, I’ve figured out that I can apply what I’ve discovered to my daily work to streamline communication processes,” he said.

Tanim Islam. Photo by Blaise Douros/LLNL.

He also prioritizes outreach to encourage young people to go into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For example, he visits high schools and colleges in the Bay Area and beyond to share more about what kinds of problems he solves and what he does as a staff scientist.

“I come ready with cool videos and animations that might pique their interest in becoming scientists,” he said. “My first summer student, Alison Dreyfuss, is now a staff scientist here at LLNL.”

The key to positive mentorship relationships is forming connections, according to Islam.

“I think having more diversity in a workplace allows mentors and mentees to have more ways to form a connection with one another,” he said. “As an American of South Asian descent, I have seen that other non-white people are more comfortable talking to me.”

One other way Islam likes to connect with people?

“My pet parrot, Twinkles, is an Instagram star. Her most viral video now has almost 150,000 views and over 7,500 likes,” he said. “She’s really been blowing up.”


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