Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Libby Glascoe

Director of Materials Compatibility

Materials Science Division

November 2, 2020

What do you like about working at the Lab?

I feel a great pride and drive to work on problems that are important to our national security. And I enjoy the people I work with tremendously. I think those two things make working at LLNL great. I also enjoy working on real problems that challenge me scientifically and allow me to foster new solutions with technical rigor.

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

I’m the director of materials compatibility, and I lead a team of scientists and engineers in assessing the long-term stability and chemical compatibility of material assemblies. My kids say, “you sure do spend a lot of time in meetings!” and they’re right because I spent a lot of my time talking to the technical experts in materials and compatibility to answer technical questions from our weapons programs. It is a desk job where I talk to people in meetings or on the phone, email a lot, prepare presentations, manage budgets, and schedule activities. Sometimes I travel to conferences or meetings at other national labs. Underneath all that is the bigger goal of developing new capabilities and working to solve challenging materials compatibility problems.

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

My proudest accomplishment has been launching the Reaction Sorption and Transport (ReSorT) modeling toolkit and building a team of scientists and engineers to foster and grow this modeling and experimental capability. This capability is designed to predict service lifetimes of material assemblies that may age due to material out-gassing and gas-incompatibility issues. We recently tested our model against aging data and found a great match between experiments and models.

What is your educational or career background?

I earned a BA in chemistry from Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota) and a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. I spent a year at Los Alamos National Laboratory between undergraduate and graduate school, and I came to LLNL directly from graduate school. I’ve worked at the Lab for 14 years.

What inspired you to go into your field of work?

I knew I’d be a scientist as long as I can remember; both parents and most of my grandparents were scientists, engineers, doctors, and nurses, so this seemed like the obvious choice. I chose chemistry in undergraduate because I just loved it. I still find it magical and immensely profound that the universe is made up of very simple particles and the only difference between all the tangible things in our universe is how they’re arranged. I chose physical chemistry because it was the only class in undergraduate that truly challenged me—I guess I just wanted to dig deeper and understand the magic of quantum chemistry.

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

Ask for help and update people around you regularly. If you’re struggling, you may need to bounce ideas off of someone else. If you’re doing great things, you have to tell people so that they can understand what you’ve accomplished.

What do you do in your free time?

I love spending time with my kids. They are funny and clever and ask questions that force me to see the world in new ways, and I’m so proud when I see them accomplish new things that they learned on their own or through us. I love to run; I’ve been running since I was 11 years old. I’ve found that everything is better after a run. I also enjoy cooking, and I really like to travel (especially when I get to run in new places and when my kids come along).

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