PLS names outstanding postdocs

Oct. 8, 2012

From left) Bill Goldstein, former Physical and Life Sciences principal associate director, with the 2012 PLS Outstanding Postdocs -- Amy Laziki, Xavier Mayali, Andre Schleife and Kyle Sullivan. (Download Image)

PLS names outstanding postdocs

Linda A Lucchetti,, 925-422-5815

What makes an outstanding postdoc? Ask members of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate (PLS) who last month bequeathed the title on four individuals during an awards presentation by former Principal Associate Director Bill Goldstein.

This award is given to postdocs with an exceptional level of accomplishment while working at LLNL. The 2012 PLS Outstanding Postdocs are: Amy Laziki, Xavier Mayali, Andre Schleife and Kyle Sullivan.

Amy Laziki of the Condensed Matter and Materials Division was a graduate student at the Lab for three and half years in the high pressure physics group before becoming a postdoc for the last two years in the laser shock physics group. She has been studying high pressure behavior of low-Z lithium containing ionic solids. Her work in high pressure behavior of materials, has led to a change in the way solids are explored making this an exciting area of research. As a postdoc, she has written two first-author papers and co-authored three papers. Her mentor is Rip Collins.

"I am honored to be chosen for this award," Laziki said.

Xavier Mayali of the Chemical Sciences Division's Chemical and Isotopic Signatures Group, is a biologist with a degree in biological oceanography. He uses mass spectrometry tools, in particular the NanoSIMS, to ask questions about microbial biogeochemical cycling in the environment, including the ocean, soil, algal mats and the guts of wood eating beetles.

Mayali serves as a PI on the LDRD research topic, "Accelerator and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry to Measure Coastal Carbon Flux" and examines the microbial decomposition of sinking marine particles and how this process is affected by climate change such as increased temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations.

Since starting at the Lab in 2009, he has published four first-authored papers. He was awarded for the best PLS poster in 2011. He is co-PI on a $1M grant from the Moore Foundation Marine Microbiology Initiative, 2012. His mentor is Jennifer Pett-Ridge.

"It is a great honor to receive a postdoc award as I realize that there are many outstanding postdoctoral researchers at LLNL; I'm not sure I deserve it any more than any of them, and I am humbled to represent them," Mayali said.

Andre Schleife of the Condensed Matter and Materials Division's Quantum Simulations Group has been with the Lab since February 2011. He is particularly interested in excited electronic states and their coupling to ions in inorganic materials and metals. While at LLNL he has published four first-authored papers, one of which was invited, one book (sole author) and has co-authored eight papers. He won the 2012 best postdoc poster award. He co-chairs the PLS postdoc seminar series and is the vice president of the Lab's Postdoc Association. He is a co-organizer of a symposium dealing with oxide semiconductors at the meeting of the Materials Research Society in Boston this November. His mentors are Eric Schwegler and Alfredo Correa.

"Receiving the outstanding postdoc award means a lot to me because it shows that it is not just me who is excited about this kind of research, but also that LLNL likes what I do," Schliefe said. "That is very reassuring and helps, in particular, at the current stage of my career."

Kyle Sullivan of the Chemical Sciences Division is affiliated with the Energetics Materials Center. He has been working as part of an engineering LDRD strategic initiative to use additive manufacturing technologies for energetic materials research and development. He also works part time on a Joint Munitions Program project doing powder processing and laser-driven shock experiments to better understand and control material fragmentation behavior under shock loading.

Since joining the Lab in November 2011, he has published five first-authored papers (one was invited and one was a feature article), three co-authored papers and has filed two first-authored patents. He won the best poster award at a national meeting in 2012, presented at the joint LLNL/LANL S&T Board of Governors meeting and presented a poster as an early career scientist during the National Academy of Sciences visit this summer. His mentor is Alex Gash.

"I am honored to be selected for this award, and want to thank my colleagues for their support, particularly Josh Kuntz and my mentor, Alex Gash," Sullivan said.