Like a beautiful mosaic composed of many distinct pieces, the science and technology advances from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are made possible by the contributions of the many individuals that make up its diverse workforce. At Argonne, diversity is a driving force that fuels creativity, innovation, resilience and progress, exemplifying the profound positive impact that a diverse workforce can have on an organization and its mission.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Argonne is shining a spotlight on a few of the lab’s Latino team members. The following profiles highlight each individual’s achievements and contributions in shaping the laboratory’s trajectory, enriching our collective pursuit of knowledge and inspiring the workforce of the future.
Michael Kaminski is a senior nuclear chemical engineer in the Strategic Security Sciences division. His work currently focuses on establishing best practices internationally for preparing for and recovering from radiological and nuclear releases in an urban environment.
His journey at Argonne began in the DOE’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program in 1992. He went on to earn his master’s degree under an Argonne Laboratory Graduate Appointment and has worked full time at the lab since 1998. In that time, Kaminski has generated 30 inventions and 10 patents at Argonne, and his work has been highly cited in the scientific literature (more than 22,000 times).
Kaminski – who is of Mexican and Polish heritage – is also the president of the Argonne Hispanic/Latino Club (AHLC). On top of general networking and community support provided by the 70-person club, the AHLC also awards scholarships. The AHLC has distributed more than $40,000 in scholarships to nearly 100 Hispanic students ranging from high school freshmen all the way to the graduate level.
The club also offers an annual Educational Outreach Day, where a chosen school can send up to 40 students to Argonne to learn what real scientific research looks like. After conducting hands-on experiments – such as extracting the DNA from a squished strawberry – the students have lunch with Argonne mentors and discuss what they can do to prepare for a career in the sciences.
In addition to the many technological and professional resources offered at Argonne, Kaminski also believes the culture at Argonne and of the surrounding area are key components to the lab’s success.
“Argonne is like many of the other national laboratories in that the research and development is cutting edge, and the work is very rewarding in its mission to help people around the world live a better life,” Kaminski said. “However, Argonne also has the great advantage of being a part of a culturally diverse community in the greater Chicagoland area. Anyone can find somewhere in the Chicagoland community to satisfy their interests.”
Marco Rodrigues is a battery scientist in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division where he works to develop technologies to support the electric vehicle market. Specifically, he studies lithium-ion batteries to better understand how these power sources degrade over time.
He has been with the laboratory for five and a half years – first as an intern, then as a postdoctoral researcher, and now as a staff scientist.
“During my first appointment at the lab I found Argonne to be a truly welcoming place,” Rodrigues said. “A place like Argonne is quite unique in the research world, as it allows you to maintain hands-on involvement with projects on a daily basis, creating endless opportunities for learning and reinventing oneself.”
Rodrigues was awarded the Battery Division Postdoctoral Associate Research Award in 2020 from the Electrochemical Society following a series of projects that looked at phenomena occurring during the fast charging of lithium-ion batteries. These efforts will help create batteries that last longer and charge much faster.
“Our success in these projects was a result of collaboration,” Rodrigues said. “Fortunately, this has been a constant during my time at Argonne. I always get the chance to work with fantastic scientists, while the DOE helps by channeling our creativity to things that matter.”
Anita Garcia is an executive assistant at Argonne, working with the director of the lab’s Accelerator Systems division. She began her time with Argonne as a high school co-op student and has been with the lab for 33 years.
“I remained with Argonne because I was learning a lot about the administrative field, the benefits were great, and the culture and employee diversity of the laboratory is very appealing to me,” Garcia said.
Garcia provides indispensable administrative and operational support within the Accelerator Systems division and the larger Photon Sciences organization.
“A major accomplishment for me has been the learning experience and advancement within the administrative field,” Garcia said. “I have been fortunate to work alongside scientists and managers assisting them in promoting the various scientific disciplines within the divisions and departments that I have supported over the years.”
The lab’s resources in tuition assistance were also vital in her educational advancement. Garcia believes that Argonne has much to offer young students – even if they don’t want to specialize in a scientific discipline.
“I would encourage young people to reach out and learn about all the opportunities that a world-class scientific research facility such as Argonne has to offer,” Garcia said. “Not just for scientists and engineers but also in administration, operations, safety and health-related fields.”
Maria De La Cinta Lorenzo-Martin
Maria De La Cinta Lorenzo-Martin is a materials scientist working in the Applied Materials division. She studies different materials and surfaces that will make things like wind turbines and engines more efficient, durable and reliable.
She leverages analytical tools at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) and electron microscopes at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) to develop a better understanding of materials and surfaces under standard operating conditions.
Lorenzo-Martin came to Argonne after completing her doctorate in solid state physics at the Universidad de Sevilla and has been with the laboratory since 2004.
“When I had the opportunity to come to Argonne to continue studies related to my thesis topic in high temperature ceramic materials, I was very excited,” Lorenzo-Martin says. “Although I had originally planned for a short stay, soon I was having too much fun to leave. I am still here enjoying the work I do every day.”
While Lorenzo-Martin has had many successes in her time at Argonne, she is most proud of the several patents that came out of her work. For instance, Lorenzo-Martin and her colleagues created a useful low-friction film for metallic components. Many machines require metallic surfaces to rub up against each other, and having a low-friction film over the metal can protect the surface and assist lubrication.
Lorenzo-Martin stated that having the right guidance, support and access to DOE Office of Science user facilities such as the CNM and APS has been a vital component to her accomplishments at the laboratory.
Jose Monsalve Diaz
Jose Monsalve Diaz is a third-year postdoctoral researcher in the Mathematics and Computer Science division where he works on software infrastructure for future computer system architectures.
Diaz first joined Argonne in the fall of 2018 as a graduate student researcher working for the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE user facility. During his doctoral thesis work, he had the opportunity to get direct feedback from some of the brightest minds in the field. He has been working on a project ever since that will be enabled by exascale computing.
“Argonne is a place where science happens in every corner and it is where future technology is being created, acquired and tested,” Diaz said.
In working at Argonne, Diaz has taken a more active role in several communities that matter the most to him.
“Argonne has allowed me to give back to the community, including the Hispanic community,” Diaz said. “I am currently part of two communities: Americas HPC Collaborators and CyberColombia. These communities aim to increase collaborations and participation in high performance computing (HPC) across the Americas and the Caribbean. Thanks to my position at Argonne, these organizations benefit from increased visibility and outreach.”
In fact, Diaz believes that Argonne’s culture of inclusivity only works to strengthen the lab.
“Argonne has a diverse community with people from all over the world,” Diaz said. “DOE recognizes the importance of working with the international community to be able to host excellent researchers, and I would absolutely encourage young students to pursue a career at the lab.”
Blanca Arroyo is the senior financial manager for the Nuclear Technologies and National Security and Advanced Energy Technologies directorates.
Arroyo’s Argonne journey began in high school, when she enrolled in a business class that offered a cooperative program with various institutions. She selected Argonne, and believed at the time that she would only be at the lab for a year. But when her term ended, she was offered a permanent position and accepted. She’s been with Argonne for 28 years.
Arroyo has taken advantage of the available resources at Argonne to grow and advance her career. Since joining Argonne, she has earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, a Master of Business Administration, and she also completed the selective University of Chicago Strategic Laboratory Leadership Program.
Over the years, Arroyo has worked her way up to the position of senior financial manager. In this role she plays a pivotal part in helping her division’s financial strategy and decision-making. Drawing on her extensive expertise, she collaborates with executive team members to set financial goals, allocate resources and manage budgets. She also oversees a team that supports the hundreds of employees within the two directorates.
“I’ve stayed this long because I still learn something new every day, because value is placed on diversity, inclusion and our core values, and because I’m proud to play a small part in the impactful work delivered by all staff fulfilling Argonne’s mission,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo is incredibly proud of her ability to contribute to her team’s growth and successes in the same way that others were able to do for her when she was just starting out. What’s more, she encourages others to seek out the amazing experience that she received.
“No matter what your field of study or work, there is exceptional scientific, technical and operational expertise here. Whether you stay for a few months as a summer appointment or your whole career, the opportunity to continuously learn from the diversity of individuals you encounter, and the experiences you have, will be invaluable,” said Arroyo.
About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://science.osti.gov/User-Facilities/User-Facilities-at-a-Glance.
About the Advanced Photon Source
The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.
This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.