Albala named education outreach manager

Jul. 3, 2014

Albala named education outreach manager

Carenda L Martin, martin59@llnl.gov, 925-424-4715

Joanna Albala has been named the new education outreach manager within the University Relations and Science Education Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Albala is no stranger to LLNL. Her affiliation began two decades ago in 1994 when she joined the Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in the Biology and Biotechnology Research Program's Genomics Division. During her time as a postdoc, Albala helped discover and characterize a new DNA repair gene and received several awards for her contributions. After completing her fellowship, Albala remained at the Laboratory as a senior biomedical scientist until 2004, when she left to pursue other opportunities as a scientist/adjunct professor at Harvard University, UC Davis and the University of the Pacific. The research she conducted from 1997 to 2012 in biotechnology, the human genome, DNA and cancer earned Albala more than 20 research grants totaling millions of dollars.

Albala returned to LLNL last summer as a teacher scholar for the Edward Teller Education Center working on educational outreach programs, allowing an easy transition to the position of education outreach manager. Albala has a biological affinity for teaching. Her parents were both teachers and have been a strong influence in her career path. Their love for teaching was contagious making teaching a natural extension of her scientific career.

John Knezovich, director of University Relations & Science Education, said, "Joanna has great enthusiasm for this work. She will bring the Laboratory's science and technology outside the fence and into the education community."

"I was drawn back to LLNL for the opportunity to assimilate many of the tools that I have acquired over the years, in particular my scientific background combined with my teaching skills," Albala said. "I am looking forward to developing programs that ultimately impact students in the greater regional community, Tri-Valley and Central Valley. In addition to her full time career at LLNL, she is an adjunct professor at San Joaquin Delta College.

Albala lives in Stockton with her husband, a professor and food historian at the University of the Pacific; their teenage sons Ethan and Benjamin; and two dogs, two cats and two fish. Work-life balance and maintaining a healthy body has always been important to Albala. Her fitness regime includes Bikram yoga, swimming, taking exercise classes here on site through the Livermore Laboratory Employee Services Association and working out at a gym in Stockton. She also enjoys throwing pottery and helping backstage with her sons' high school theater productions.

An ardent promoter of STEM education, Albala advises students interested in pursuing STEM is to "just go for it," she said. "Take workshops, look for opportunities to work in labs, don't be afraid to ask questions and seek out science."

Albala brings impressive educational and professional credentials to her new position. She has always loved biology and became inspired to pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field in high school. "I have always been interested in how the body works on a cellular level," Albala said. "Biology became my passion," she said.

In 1987 she received a bachelor's degree in biology from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and continued her education at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University in Bronx, New York, where she received a master's (1991) degree and doctorate (1994) in pathology. She has given countless academic lectures and workshops and has served as an external reviewer for well-known journals and publications.

As one of Albala's first official duties in this role, she launched the annual summer program of Teacher Research Academies (TRA), professional development workshops for science teachers.

Albala replaces Richard (Dick) Farnsworth who retired earlier this year. Albala will also continue the popular Science on Saturdayseries in the spring. Visit the LLNL Science Education Program websitefor more detailed information about these programs.