Prestigious IAEA Curie award goes to Sandia intern

By Whitney Lacy

Photography By Lonnie Anderson

Friday, January 15, 2021

Lauren Crabtree accepts inaugural education award

Lauren Crabree
Lauren Crabtree Winner of the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship.

The International Atomic Energy Agency selected Lauren Crabtree for its inaugural Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Program to recognize her studies in nuclear engineering.

Lauren, a year-round intern in International Safeguards and Engagements, is pursuing her master’s and doctorate in nuclear engineering at the University of New Mexico. She expects to earn her master’s in the spring.

“It’s such a great honor to receive this award and to be recognized at Sandia,” she said.

To qualify for the fellowship, Lauren graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering from UNM, and worked as an intern at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia. She has held numerous leadership positions in UNM’s American Nuclear Society Student Chapter and co-founded a student organization called “oSTEM,” which seeks to foster orientation equality and professional development in STEM students.

The IAEA program supports young women studying in nuclear science fields relevant to the IAEA’s mission to “advance the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology such as nuclear engineering, nuclear physics and chemistry, nuclear medicine, isotopic techniques, radiation biology, nuclear safety, nuclear security and non-proliferation.”

The program’s long-term objective is to contribute to a new generation of women leaders in nuclear science fields, and to promote their participation in global scientific and technological development and potential contributions to a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

“I am beyond thrilled for Lauren,” said her mentor, Adam Williams of the Center for Global Security and Cooperation. “This is a great opportunity for her, and likely the first of many such distinctions. We are very fortunate to have her at Sandia.”

The program was launched by the IAEA in March 2020 and supports up to 100 female graduate students per year, to help close a gender gap in the nuclear field. The fellowship was named after two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, whose fundamental work in radioactivity helped harness the power of the atom. The IAEA is the world’s center for cooperation in the nuclear field, but women generally make up only 30 percent of those in professional or leadership categories.

“I’d like to thank Adam Williams of Sandia and Cassiano de Oliveria of UNM for helping me with this fellowship,” Lauren said. “I couldn’t have done it without their support and recommendation.”

Lauren, a New Mexico native, applied for the fellowship during her second year of graduate school at UNM. “I’m also enrolled in the new nuclear security program within the Nuclear Engineering department,” she said.

The nuclear security program is a partnership between Sandia and UNM to create a novel approach to teaching nuclear security. Its goal is to create more robust opportunities for current and future nuclear engineering students at UNM.

After earning her doctorate, Lauren said, “I hope to then complete a postdoc position at Sandia or hopefully become full time if all goes well.”

The fellowship will cover university tuition fees and living expenses for up to two years. Lauren also has the opportunity, if selected, to pursue a 12-month internship at the IAEA in Vienna related to her field of study.