Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting the diverse group of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory postdocs and graduate scholars.
Full name: Madison Martin
Hometown: Cooper City, Florida
Educational background: Martin received a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from Florida Atlantic University Honors College, her master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida, and she is pursuing a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering also from the University of Florida.
Previous experience: Associate environmental specialist at Florida Power & Light and a High Energy Density Physics summer scholar at LLNL in 2013.
LLNL group/division/directorate: Weapons and Complex Integration (WCI), Design Physics
When did you start at the Lab? Summer 2013 as a summer scholar.
What are you working on? I am a Livermore graduate scholar completing my Ph.D. research here at LLNL. My research project includes the computational design, experimental coordination and validation of short pulse laser-driven iron opacity measurements.
What interested you in the Lab? When I applied for summer internships at DOE’s national laboratories, I was particularly interested in working on a plasma physics-related project. This was a topic I was just newly interested in and it would be a departure from my previous research, which was focused on neutron transport. After my time in the High Energy Density Physics Summer Scholar program, I knew I wanted to switch research paths for my dissertation. The Livermore graduate scholar program has allowed me to do that.
What do you enjoy most about the Lab? I love the idea of doing science in the national interest. I also find Livermore’s strong emphasis on multidisciplinary research appealing. I noticed this as a summer student, which is why I worked so hard to come back as a graduate scholar.
What have you learned since joining the Lab? I’ve learned so much it is hard to summarize it all in a short response. I’ve learned how to use radiation hydrodynamic simulations to conduct parameter studies and compare results to experimental data. I’ve also learned the immense value in networking and building connections with other scientists within and outside of the Lab. When I joined LLNL as a graduate scholar, I looked for a way to get involved at the Lab, which led me to the Lawrence Livermore Postdoc Association (LLPA). I serve as the vice president of the LLPA. It’s a great way to meet many different people across the Lab. We focus on encouraging career development and networking. Overall, I feel like there is something new to learn every single day at LLNL. I love that.
What has been your biggest challenge to overcome? I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 21, after two years of struggling with increasingly severe flare-ups. I was so sick that I thought my educational career was over and that I would never get that Ph.D. I had always wanted. I learned a lot about myself during that time. It was a life-changing experience not only physically, but mentally as well. I had to change things about how I prioritize my life. With the help of family, friends and doctors, I came out of the series of flare-ups and I’ve been in remission for the last 2.5 years. One of my proudest moments was finishing my undergraduate degree and thesis during my recovery.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far? My biggest accomplishment was switching research paths mid-graduate career. I was fortunate to have many supportive mentors help me start my current research at LLNL. Without them, I would not have my graduate scholar appointment and I would not be conducting research I really enjoy. So, special thanks to Sedat Goluoglu (UF), Richard London (LLNL) and Heather Whitley (LLNL).
What was your first job and how did you get it? My first job was as an associate environmental specialist at Florida Power and Light (FPL). I was part of the team responsible for handling the site licensing of Turkey Point 6 & 7, to new nuclear units proposed at Turkey Point. During my last semester of undergrad, I was an intern within FPL’s Environmental Services Department. One of the internship mentors also was on the Turkey Point 6 & 7 team and suggested I apply for the position after I graduated.
Who/what inspired you to pursue a career in a science, technology engineering and math (STEM) field? My grandmother, Meema as I call her, practiced simple math flash cards with me when I was a toddler. I’ve always had a knack with numbers and an interest in science. I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by adults who fostered and encouraged my scientific interests growing up. I am the first person in my immediate family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and I’m the first scientist. My family pushed me to pursue what I enjoyed (math/science), and my teachers, professors and mentors taught me everything they could to set me on the path to STEM.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I mostly read fiction and spend time with my husband and fur babies (a cat and a dog). I also take the ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance classes on-site during my lunch hour. Recently, I have gotten into running with a few friends. I just finished my first half marathon in August.
Where do you see yourself in 10-20 years? I certainly see myself working at a national laboratory. I want to continue working on multidisciplinary science problems that are important to our country. I also hope I continue to learn something new every day.
Who do you follow on social media (and why)? I follow anything/anyone that fits my interests: STEM advocates, dancers, pet accounts, authors, etc.
Who are your heroes? I certainly look up to many people, especially my science mentors, for a variety of different reasons. However, for this question, I’m going to go back to my original inspiration. My grandmother is not only smart and driven, she is the most caring person I know. I strive to be half as caring and selfless as her.
hunts1 [at] llnl.gov