All eyes on Lauren Sylvia Abrahams
Lauren Sylvia Abrahams
Lauren Sylvia Abrahams’ upbringing in a Mexican Jewish household shaped how she interacts and works with people by having a better understanding of their lived and learned experiences.
Abrahams’ biracial and multiethnic background and passion for higher education have been the foundational pillars of her interest and work in inclusion, diversity, equity and accountability (IDEA) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, she grew up in a household exposed to English, Spanish and Hebrew. Abrahams felt her Chicago suburb was a melting pot that accepted everyone’s racial, cultural and ethnic differences.
Abrahams’ maternal grandparents lived in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. for a better life. Growing up, her mother — an administrative assistant at a motor company at the time — was instrumental in sparking Abrahams’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She is the youngest of five and second to get a college degree, and first to get a Ph.D.
“Education was always instilled in me," she said. "Despite my mother not having a college education, she was passionate about education. She wanted my siblings and I to pursue science and math because it would uplift us. My father was often very sick, so making them both proud was a goal of mine. My mother’s push got me to explore and tinker.”
From bringing broken keyboards and printers from her job to crafting with quilting and embroidery, Abrahams’ mother taught her how to be curious about putting things together. “While my mother didn’t teach me programming with a computer, through crafting she inadvertently taught me how to apply ‘for loops’ and ‘if statements’ and how to assemble various components to form something beautiful and functional,” she said.
Abrahams’ background is what inspired her to do IDEA work. She enjoys learning about people and creating spaces where people can bring different perspectives.
“When I was growing up, I never thought I was any different,” she said. “It wasn’t until I left my community that I realized that people didn't grow up in households like mine. It was an interesting experience going from somewhere where I felt almost homogenous, due to my community being so accepting of people’s differences, to then going to school in Wisconsin, where there was little diversity. That’s when I began getting questions about my ethnic background, I think my background does help improve my perspective in creating safe spaces for others and that’s something I want to continue to do here at the Lab.”
Abrahams joined LLNL in October 2022 as a design physicist in what is now called the Strategic Deterrence (SD) Directorate. Her main project focuses on planetary defense, where she uses high performance computing to study crater formation and vaporization and secondary effects such as tsunami wave generation and climate effects. She is committed to sharing her passion for STEM fields with others through LLNL’s many STEM outreach opportunities and reaching underserved communities. She also is the directorate's IDEA chair.
"The Lab benefits from diversity because we want to be able to see things from different perspectives and experiences,” she said.
Abrahams’ favorite hobbies to this day continue to be sewing, cross stitching, embroidery, bag making and knitting. Her mother’s lessons in sewing showed her the patterns in her work. Through her hobbies, Abrahams is reminded to try new things, take ownership of her work and embrace mistakes as all part of the design.
At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) our staff are our greatest asset. LLNL continues to act on its commitment to foster strong values and a culture that embraces inclusion, diversity, equity and accountability (IDEA). Our Laboratory culture aims to allow everyone to feel like they belong and that their thoughts and ideas are valuable contributions to LLNL’s mission. IDEA at LLNL has proven to be vital in supporting the Laboratory's mission, driving innovation, groundbreaking research and discovery. We encourage all to explore our available careers and apply.