Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Amy Jenei


Physics Division

October 20, 2020

What do you like about working at the Lab?

I like that I am constantly learning new things. It’s frustrating sometimes to never really feel like I know what I’m doing, but also quite exciting. I feel extremely lucky to be able to work on so many interesting projects, and I really enjoy all my colleagues.

What do your day-to-day work activities include?

Mostly I make PowerPoint slides: slides with pictures of target designs, slides with experimental layouts, slides summarizing results. So many slides! I also go to a lot of meetings (WebEx now!) and exchange a lot of emails with the various teams I work with to make experiments happen: the people who design the experiment, the people who run the facilities, the people who make the targets, and the various managers and science stakeholders. I try to spend at least a little time analyzing data and working on a paper every day.

What is one project you’re really proud to have worked on?

I think I’m most proud of my team’s effort to field x-ray diffraction experiments on the National Ignition Facility. It’s been a long time coming to reach complete fruition, but I had the opportunity to be involved almost from the beginning, and it’s been fascinating to watch and participate in this process. We’ve taken over 100 shots, and now the data can be really beautiful....I still get very excited with every shot.

What is your educational and career background?

I studied engineering physics at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and got my PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of California, Davis. I did a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, and another at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission in France before joining the Lab in 2010.

What inspired you to go into your field of work?

It seemed cool and hard—a fun thing to tell strangers you do for a living.

What advice would you give to a new employee at the Lab?

Try to meet a lot of people and find out what they do. There are just so many opportunities and so much interesting stuff going on.

What do you do in your free time?

I like doing things with my kids, cooking, baking, going on hikes, listening to audiobooks, and memorizing poetry.