Pebble Labs Is Bringing Natives Home To Live And Work In The Los Alamos Area


Erick and Mary LeBrun 1.jpgErick and Mary LeBrun and their daughter Nyssa have returned to New Mexico to love in White Rock. Courtesy photo


Los Alamos native Erick LeBrun, vice president for research for the Parallax Division of Pebble Labs spoke to Los Alamos County Council members June 11 that the company is bringing natives of Los Alamos and the region home to work.

LeBrun made his comment during an agenda item discussing the proposed expansion of Pebble Labs in the community. He said grandparents and parents live in Los Alamos.

“I’m the fourth child of my family to actually bring their family back to Los Alamos. Like many children growing up in the community I didn’t realize how the community was. And I left for 20 years and during that 20 years I fell in love with science. I got my PhD and had a family. Those things all culminated into a homesickness for Los Alamos. I missed the views, I missed the safety, I missed the schools,” he said.

LeBrun said that in his specialty there aren’t many jobs in this area of the country so he never thought Los Alamos would be a possibility until he met Dr. Richard Sayre and Pebble Labs.

“They offered me an opportunity to come here and do the research I wanted to do where I wanted to live and raise my family,” he said.

LeBrun’s grandparents are Mahlon and Ginny Wilson of White Rock and his parents are Bruce and Stacy LeBrun, also of White Rock. His siblings are Cresta Batemon, Thomas LeBrun and Rob LeBrun.

LeBrun said the additional success story with the growth of Pebble Labs is that his team started with one person, has grown to five persons and is continuing to grow. He said in addition to himself Pebble Labs has hired others from Los Alamos as well as from Espanola area, Santa Clara Pueblo, Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

“These are people who left to do schooling and education, and Pebble Labs has been able to bring them back and make our team what it is. In addition to that we are continuing to retain talent by hiring from UNM and NMSU and local universities. Beyond that we are continuing diversity by hiring the best people from around the world in their specialties,” LeBrun said. “Our staff now represents more than 21 different countries. These are all people that have come here to Los Alamos to raise their families, to buy homes, to invest in the community.”

LeBrun said that in the year and a half he has been back in Los Alamos, he doesn’t regret it at all.

“I love this community. I love everything about it. I consider myself a champion of Los Alamos. These other people that I’m mentioning as well, they’re also champions of Los Alamos. Pebble Labs would love to stay here as family and bring our culture and continue to develop that in Los Alamos,” he said. “One of the best things about getting to do this at this company in this location is that we’re all doing science that’s going to change the world. We’re doing internationally recognized science that addresses major problems for humanity in the near future so we can all feel very good about what we’re doing in addition to diversifying and bringing talent into the Los Alamos area.”

Le Brun said another aspect of Pebble Labs is that a lot of spouses travel with scientists that work at LANL or other scientific areas.

“While their specialties might not exactly fit with jobs in those descriptions at those facilities, they fit very well for us and we’re glad to have those people and keep those families here in Los Alamos by supporting those partnerships,” he said.

In a conversation with the Los Alamos Reporter Wednesday, Le Brun described his diverse career since graduating from Los Alamos High School which included bartending, acting in bit parts in movies filmed in New Mexico, joining the U.S. Army after 9/11 and working in human resources for a Fortune 500 company. At 30, quit his job to attend UNM where he earned a degree in biology. He went on to Baylor University in Texas and within four years had his PhD in biology.

“My expertise is in microbial ecology with an emphasis on bioinformatics, metagenomics, and integrative omics. In short, I blend biology with computer science, big data, and high performance computing,” LeBrun said.

He said he loves the science, the culture and the people at Pebble Labs.

“I am excited to be part of bringing new, dynamic and disruptive science to Los Alamos as well as helping to introduce new and diverse funding sources to the local economy. I am very happy to be back in Los Alamos and part of community I sincerely care about,” Le Brun said.

He and his wife Mary live in White Rock with their two-year old daughter, Nyssa.