BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Sen. Martin Heinrich on Friday afternoon recognized and congratulated Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) researchers, managers, technicians and maintenance staff on the 50th anniversary of the facility during an event at LANSCE.
Others who spoke at the event included LANSCE Director Michael Furlanetto, LANL Director Thom Mason, NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank A. Rose and DOE Under Secretary for Science & Innovation Geraldine Richmond who oversees the DOE’s Office of Science.
Heinrich said for the last 50 years, the Center has stood out as a clear example of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) unparalleled leadership in national security in world-class basic and applied scientific research. He noted that when it first opened in 1972, the 800-million electron volt accelerator was at the absolute cutting edge of nuclear physics research.
“Over the last five decades, the facilities at LANSCE have evolved with advances in nuclear physics and materials science,” Heinrich said. “This is exactly the type of research that underpins the safety, security and reliability of our nation’s nuclear deterrent.”
He said beyond the core national security mission, the five state-of-the-art facilities at LANSCE have also allowed researchers to achieve significant scientific breakthroughs with wide-ranging application, as well as providing invaluable opportunities to the larger scientific community to conduct experiments and produce medical and research isotopes.
Those opportunities, Heinrich said, have played a key role in training the nation’s top scientists and attracting the best emerging talent to work at the national labs. This has led to major advances in technologies such as flight instruments, sensitive microelectronics and PET scans for medicine, Heinrich said.
“Through my work in the U.S. Senate, I am dedicated to investing in the success of New Mexico’s national labs. That includes of course, the full funding I have secure LANL’s role as the nation’s Center of Excellence for Plutonium Research and pit production. But it also includes the types of experimental science that allows Lab scientists and researchers to solve a broad array of problems,” Heinrich said.
He said he is a big believer in strategic research programs that maintain the vitality of the groundbreaking science at national laboratories and that he has seen how critical those research programs are for attracting and retaining top talent. He affirmed his commitment to improvement of tech transfer processes within the Department of Energy to help Lab scientists tap into potential commercialization applications for the technologies they develop.
Heinrich said he will continue to support productive partnerships and working relationships between LANL and Sandia National Labs and communities throughout the state, including building stronger STEM workforce pipelines within public schools, community colleges and research universities.
“It means fully investing in the completion of environmental cleanup work – from soil and water remediation to the removal of legacy radioactive waste,” he said.