The Office of National and Homeland Security (ONHS), first established at the Lab in the 1990s, transitioned from the Physical Sciences Area to the Lab Directorate in the fall of 2020, reporting to the Deputy Lab Director for Research. The transition was made to better support opportunities across the Lab with the nation’s security agencies, which include the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the intelligence community.
Since then, the ONHS has been working on growing the opportunities that are relevant to the Lab’s strategic mission. Harshini Mukundan joined the team in 2022 to help facilitate development and curation of programs in the national biosecurity space (including efforts that focus on mitigating the health, economic, and societal impacts of epidemics and pandemics). In addition, Shawn Tornga, joined the lab this June to support opportunities related to nuclear nonproliferation (see below).
In fact, the Lab is already getting about $40M per year of support from security-related agencies across 20 of the lab’s 21 scientific divisions. Recent successes include new projects funded by DOE NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development (DNN R&D, aka NA-22) office, DHS Science and Technology, DoD Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DoD Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).
“These are just a few examples of where security agencies’ mission needs and our Lab’s core capabilities intersect,” said ONHS Head John Valentine. “There are many additional opportunities out there, from biosecurity to nuclear nonproliferation to cybersecurity to climate change impacts on security. Materials science and cross-cutting capabilities such as computational modeling and machine learning are also of interest to security agencies.”
New Opportunities in Biosecurity
The COVID pandemic has seen increased interest from government security agencies in research related to biosecurity and biodefense, and opportunities for Lab researchers from many Areas to engage. Enabling laboratory researchers to explore and develop programs in these areas is Harshini Mukundan, who leads chemical and biological technologies program development within ONHS. Harshini joined the laboratory in August 2022, after 17 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory where she grew a strong program in biosecurity and global health.
The Lab has select but significant programs in these areas. Recently, Harshi has been working on strategically expanding this portfolio, and building partnerships to enable program development. These efforts have led to new programs from DTRA and DARPA, and other arms of the DoD. Further, the ONHS office is also coordinating workshops and partnerships in biomanufacturing and bioeconomy, in the interest of national health security. If you are interested in exploring these programs and opportunities, contact Harshi at email@example.com.
Shawn Tornga Joins ONHS Team
This June, Shawn Tornga joined the ONHS team as the Nuclear Security Technologies (NST) Program Manager to support opportunities related to nuclear nonproliferation. Shawn, who has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, comes to the Lab from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she was most recently the deputy program manager in the Intelligence and Emerging Threats – Space Protection Office as well as the point of contact for Air Force-related R&D projects for Global Security. She was also a staff scientist and senior project leader in the space science and applications group, working on simulation and modeling for space-based nuclear detonation detection, radiation detection and gamma-ray imaging projects.
Shawn is also focused on establishing the new Next-Generation Nonproliferation Leadership Development Program (NextGen) at the Lab, a program that aims to develop the next generation of nonproliferation leaders.
She will be working with John Valentine to strengthen the Lab’s relationship with key defense-related agencies, such as the DOE’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research & Development Office at NNSA. She will directly support the Nonproliferation Stewardship Program (NSP), as well as the broader nonproliferation stakeholder community and national laboratory complex. She will be working with researchers across the Lab to cultivate the Lab’s portfolio of relevant contributions.
Next-Generation Nonproliferation Leadership Development Program (NextGen): Fellowship Application Deadline is September 30.
NextGen is a distinguished postdoctoral program aimed at accelerating the development of the next generation of nonproliferation leaders. The program, which will be operated out of the Lab’s Glenn T. Seaborg Center, will provide four Darleane C. Hoffman Fellows with the skills and network to build highly-productive careers in the national lab complex contributing to the nonproliferation mission. This work could include nuclear safeguards, nuclear forensics, arms control and treaty verification, and other related nuclear security missions. The fellowships are sponsored by the Nonproliferation Stewardship Program (NSP) within the DOE NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development (DNN R&D “NA-22”) Office.
Postdocs are invited to apply for a two-year fellowship program that offers leadership development, mentorship, and networking opportunities.
The deadline for applications is September 30. For more information and to apply, visit nextgen.lbl.gov or contact NextGen@lbl.gov.