Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Samantha Clarke

Materials Chemist

Materials Science Division

November 17, 2020

What do you like about working at the Lab?

There is so much opportunity in the Lab to pursue new research directions. I love that my work and research has evolved so much in only two years, and that I’ve been able to work on so many different projects. It is also amazing to be surrounded by people who are world-wide experts in their field and to have so many resources onsite that allow us to do cutting-edge work. It’s really incredible to be able to work on teams with these experts and to learn from them.

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

My days vary greatly week to week. Some weeks I’m at my desk working up data, attending meetings, or coordinating with collaborators on how to move forward the work that needs to be done. Other weeks, I find myself in lab most of the time, setting up and performing experiments or characterizing the materials after the experiment has finished. Sometimes, I’ll be traveling for an experiment at another national lab or at a research conference. I like having a mix of hands-on research responsibilities in the lab and more computer-based project management responsibilities.

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy running, downhill skiing, hiking, cooking, and traveling. Recently, I’ve been taking on DIY projects, like trying to use reclaimed wood to make something useful. I spend a lot of time in the garden trying to grow fruits and vegetables. I’m a member of the Organic Gardening Networking Group at the Lab.

What is your educational or career background?

I received my BS in materials chemistry from University of California, Los Angeles. While I was there, I worked with the thermoelectric materials group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. That’s where I really fell in love with research, and it’s what seeded my desire to return to a national lab. I went on to do my PhD at Northwestern University, where I tried to make new materials at high pressure conditions. This work eventually led me to seek a postdoctoral position here!

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

This is a tough one right now. I’d typically say try to meet new people by going to events or just showing up to the cafeteria and asking to sit at a random table. Or email someone you’ve met once to see if they want to get lunch or a coffee. Right now, when much of the Lab is working from home and managing other responsibilities that have come with this new normal, this is more difficult, and a WebEx lunch may not even be possible for some. I guess my advice right now would be to stay strong, reach out to those on your team and in your group to stay connected, and once things go back to normal, let’s get lunch!

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