Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Dina Weilhammer


Biosciences and Biotechnology Division

August 26, 2021

What do you like about working at the Lab?

At the Lab, I have the opportunity to work on solving problems of national importance, while also pursuing new ideas and my own scientific interests – a win/win! I feel very fortunate that I get to do interesting science for a living while having the opportunity to work on diverse projects with really smart people.

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

Every day is different. I spend time about half of my time in the lab doing experiments. The other half of my time is spent planning experiments, analyzing data, meeting with colleagues to discuss data, and lots of writing—including grant proposals and manuscripts to report results in scientific journals.

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

I have worked on many great projects at the Lab but most recently, I am really proud of the work we've done responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lab put together a diverse team of scientists across multiple disciplines and institutions. We have done some nice work predicting drugs and biomolecules that target SARS-CoV-2, and then validated their efficacy in our BSL-3 containment facility using live virus. This work lays the foundation for a rapid response pipeline: going from computational prediction to experimental validation in a few months, which will help us be better prepared to respond to future pandemics.

What is your educational or career background?

I have a BS in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics from UCLA and a PhD in molecular cell biology from UC Berkeley. And I've been at the Lab for ten years.

What inspired you to go into science?

I have been interested in science from a very young age. As a kid, I was always investigating something: I spent hours on the ground observing ant behavior, and ruined pots and pans with failed chemistry experiments, etc. When we learned about the immune system in high school biology, I was hooked. I have loved learning about how the immune system responds to infection ever since and have investigated immune responses to a wide variety of pathogens over the course of my career.

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

Try to talk to as many people as you can about their work, inside and outside your division. You never know what conversations might spark a new idea or collaboration.

What do you do in your free time?

Outside of work, I spend most of my free time with my family. I enjoy hiking, cooking, exercising, and playing sports (I do more watching than playing). I'm looking forward to getting back to traveling and seeing more friends again, hopefully soon!

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