Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Jessica Cruz

Atmospheric Scientist

Atmospheric, Earth, and Energy Division

August 3, 2020

What do you like about working at the Lab?

My two favorite things about working at the lab are the missions and the teams. I love that I have gotten to use my expertise for a variety of applications, some I would have never imagined before coming to the Lab. With each of these applications, I worked toward a truly valuable mission. I now work as part of an interdisciplinary team dedicated to public safety when there is a threat or actual release of contamination, especially nuclear or radiological material, in the atmosphere.

At the Lab, we have a pipeline where an idea or operational need is addressed through cutting-edge research. That research then produces improved processes and capabilities for us to meet our mission. The Lab assembles multidisciplinary teams that provide a collaborative and exciting work environment. I am always being challenged by and learning from the experts with whom I work, and therefore work is never boring!

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

In general, I’m incredibly proud of all work done at the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC). But if I had to pick one particular project that stands out for me, it is leading LLNL’s contribution to DOE’s radiological contingency planning team for the Mars 2020 launch of the Perseverance rover. I never imagined that I would be stationed at Kennedy Space Center in the Radiological Control Center for an Atlas V launch! It has been a wonderful experience to work with a team from DOE, the Department of Defense, and NASA in preparation for the launch.

What is your educational background?

I received a BS in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and then a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in environmental science, policy, and management, studying ecosystem sciences. I’ve worked at the Lab for 8 years.

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

I would definitely advise a new employee to learn as much about the Lab’s breadth of work as possible. Attend a seminar outside of your area occasionally. Get involved with networking and/or employee resource groups that will help you meet people from across the Lab. Aside from being interesting, these interactions can lead to innovative multidisciplinary proposals or an opportunity to participate in a cutting-edge project that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.

What do you do in your free time?

I am a mother to 2, so outside of work I spend a lot of time with my kids, enjoying whatever activity they are involved or interested in: sports, museums, theatre, exploring the Bay Area, etc. For “me” time, I challenge myself with the many great day hikes in the Bay Area. My longest so far was a solo hike: 22 miles with 5,000 feet elevation gain along the Ohlone Wilderness trail. I also love to go dancing, to concerts, and to baseball games with my kids and/or friends. Additionally, I enjoy volunteering my free time for various outreach efforts to increase the participation of under-represented populations in STEM fields. I’m a member of the Lab’s Amigos Unidos Hispanics in Partnership and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Women’s Association resource groups.

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