Sandia Labs News Releases

Sandia gives awards, mentoring to local young women

LIVERMORE, Calif. — A three-decade tradition connecting young Bay Area and northern California high school students with accomplished scientists at Sandia National Laboratories was not stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This spring, more than 70 students, parents, mentors and educators virtually attended the 30th Sandia Women’s Connection Math & Science Awards. Honorees were nominated by their teachers for the Outstanding Achievement in Science and Outstanding Achievement in Math awards and represented 18 Bay Area and Central Valley high schools.

Sandia National Laboratories Associate Labs Director Andy McIlroy welcomes the more than 70 attendees of the 30th Sandia Women’s Connection Math & Science Awards. (Photo courtesy Sandia National Laboratories.) Click on thumbnail to download image.

“When we look more broadly at mechanical engineering, math and other fields, there is a very significant gap in these career paths between women and men,” Andy McIlroy, associate labs director for Integrated Security Solutions, told the young women. “One of the things we’re hoping to address tonight is to connect you with female mentors. We hope to illustrate some of the many careers available to you in math and science at Sandia.”

Keynote speaker and Sandia virologist Brooke Harmon, whose work to help understand the COVID-19 virus has informed research around the world, told the female students that they should use their personal experiences as motivation to excel and succeed.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. That developed in me a passion to make a change,” Harmon said. “I feel like the work that I do on a daily basis is important, and I feel passionate to help people understand what happens when you get infected with COVID-19. Don’t be afraid to talk to scientists. Or teachers or professors. We love that. Find something you’re interested and passionate about and ask us about our studies.”

The recipients of the Outstanding Achievement in Math Award were: Kimberley Auman from Lathrop High School in Lathrop; Reese Chy from Granada High School in Livermore; Celeste Guerrero from East Union High School in Manteca; Lucia Gutierrez from Livermore High School in Livermore; Andrea Jia from Dublin High School in Dublin; Hannah Lee from Foothill High School in Pleasanton; Isabel Lozano Lopez from ARISE High School in Oakland; Shaela McCray from McClymonds High School in Oakland; Jennifer Nguyen from Merrill F. West High School in Tracy; Jacqueline Prawira from Mountain House High School in Mountain House; Melanie Sanchez from Skyline High School in Oakland; Sydney Skaggs from Millennium High School in Tracy; Kylie Van Os from Tracy High School in Tracy; Miriam Waldvogel from Lincoln High School in Stockton; and Deanna Wood from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton.

The recipients of the Outstanding Achievement in Science Award were: Nasya Anderson from McClymonds High School; Karly Arong from Lincoln High School; Annelyse Combitsis from Livermore High School; Crysuel Cunanan from Millennium High School; Yahaira Lino Flores from ARISE High School; Keerat Goraya from Foothill High School; Avneet Gosal from Manteca High School in Manteca; Nikhila Juluri from Dublin High School; Kanksha Koti from Granada High School; Amara McEvoy from Skyline High School; Anshika Ojha from Amador Valley High School; Hiya Pandya from Tracy High School; Maria Ramirez from Castlemont High School in Oakland; Sophia Stagnaro from John C. Kimball High School in Tracy; Danielle Stengel from East Union High School; Cindy Ta from Mountain House High School; and Ida Voong from Oakland Technical High School in Oakland.

You can learn more about the Outstanding Achievement in Science and Outstanding Achievement in Math awards by visiting Sandia’s website.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

Sandia news media contact: Michael Langley,, 925-294-1482