Marc Wonders

Physics Division

March 29, 2024

What do you like about working at the Lab?

My favorite thing about working at LLNL is getting to work with really smart and passionate people and getting to discuss interesting and challenging problems with them. Beyond that, having access to some of the best scientific resources in the world (e.g., NIF and HPC), getting to constantly learn and participate in cutting-edge science, and being able to directly contribute to national security and real-world applications is hard to beat!

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

My job requires a variety of different tasks, therefore, my day-to-day work varies. This might include several meetings trying to coordinate and execute the large-scale/team science that we carry out at LLNL, reading material and/or asking our SMEs about whatever topic/question I'm trying to track down at the moment, or carrying out simulations and/or developing analyses for my different projects.

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

I'm still relatively new at the Lab so I don't have a large list of projects that I "have" worked on so much as I have several projects that I am excited to currently "be" working on. At the top of the list is my neutron survivability work and the PROACTIVE arms control venture that has just begun.

What is your educational or career background?

I started out at a small liberal arts college with a double major in physics and business administration and then pivoted (somewhat) to getting a PhD in nuclear engineering with a focus on radiation detection for nonproliferation applications. From there I spent a year doing the NNSA Graduate Fellowship in NNSA's Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development before starting at LLNL in August 2021.

What inspired you to go into science?

My interest in science really bloomed in high school thanks to my AP chemistry and physics courses. I love learning in general, but in particular trying to understand our universe/nature is not only fascinating but I think one of the most inspiring things about humanity. I knew I wanted to study chemistry or physics, and the chemistry course was full my freshman year so voila, I became a physics major! When considering grad school, I was really interested in particle physics, but I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to six more years of school and also wanted something more applied to facilitate staying in research/science outside of academia. I then had a dream about becoming a nuclear engineer, woke up and looked into it, and then proceeded to stumble into the field of radiation detection for nonproliferation, which more or less landed me where I am now!

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

Take advantage of opportunities to learn about all the awesome work going on at the Lab and its history, people here like talking about their work and helping others so don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions/for help. Lastly, appreciate how unique and rewarding working at LLNL is.

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy exercising (weightlifting, basketball, running), reading (trying to find the balance between reading to learn vs reading for fun), am currently learning Russian, and have just started using my scuba diving certification!