Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Matthew Ortiz

Astrophysical Data Analyst

Physics Division

July 10, 2020

What do you like about working at the Lab?

There are many activities to take part in, whether on site or working from home, ranging from something as simple as going outside and walking to the cafeteria for lunch to attending seminars on topics I find interesting.

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

Most of my work involves writing (and often troubleshooting) code for use in the processing and analysis of large astrophysical datasets. The rest of the time, I am reading over papers relevant to my work, which typically propose a method or algorithm I find useful.

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

The majority of my work of this and the previous summer has involved the use of the self-organizing map and its variants. For example, last summer I made use of the growing self-organizing map in an attempt to find a simple correlation between photometric data and redshift. These algorithms are quite interesting on their own, and I feel like I have learned a lot in my study of them. This summer, I hope to take this work further, and use these algorithms in a hierarchical model for redshift inference.

What is your educational background?

I am a rising junior at the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a probable double major in astrophysics and mathematics.

What inspired you to go into your field of work?

I remember being gifted a large, illustrated encyclopedia for my birthday many years ago. Not knowing where to begin, I flipped to the beginning, which happened to cover astronomy. I was absolutely enthralled by the material, and long story short, here I am now.

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

Be sure to attend a lot of activities and events. Although you will probably enjoy the work you do, it can get tiresome, and taking a break once in a while greatly helps.

What do you do in your free time?

When I am not surfing the internet, I enjoy walking on the numerous trails in my neighborhood, especially in the late afternoon or evening. I also spend a lot of time with my family’s four cats, who all have quite different personalities (and weights).