Friday, April 16, 2021

How New Mexico became the state with the highest rate of full vaccinations


Photo from the NYT.


As vaccinations continue — the state recently made anyone 16 and older eligible — epidemiologists in New Mexico are debating whether some form of herd immunity could be achieved in the state in the coming months, and what that could look like.


“It’s still quite early to know when herd immunity in the state could potentially happen,” said Sara del Valle, a mathematical epidemiologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who is part of a team that meets weekly with the state health department.


Ms. del Valle, who said she was impressed by how public health officials took the team’s recommendations “very seriously,” nevertheless cited challenges ahead such as disparities in vaccine acceptance in parts of the state. (Full Story)


Vaccines that can protect against many coronaviruses could prevent another pandemic


A pancoronavirus vaccine might contain a nanoparticle carrier shown in gray, Science illustration.


cells are also central to the vaccine quest of Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She designs algorithms to scour the genome sequences of beta coronaviruses, looking for regions of viral proteins that can trigger T cell responses, and that vary little among the different coronaviruses. Those conserved T cell epitopes, Korber says, might make a good vaccine.


“You need to show the immune system what it needs to recognize to have breadth,” says Korber, who has applied similar techniques to designing vaccines for HIV, flu, and Ebola. Her collaborators plan to convert the sequences she selects into mRNA vaccines. (Full Story)


LANL director highlights lab’s ‘other’ work


Thom Mason, LANL photo.


Los Alamos National Laboratory’s hand in the Perseverance mission was on display as lab Director Thom Mason highlighted work LANL performs that doesn’t have to do with national security during a briefing conducted over Webex on Wednesday.


Research at LANL has led to the development of what Mason said some are calling a smart bomb against cancer. Led by LANL researcher Michael Fassbender, the new isotope treatment dispenses large amounts of radiation through a generator system while doing minimal damage to normal cells.


Mason said the lab has done extensive work in computer modeling and simulations, highlighting the work researcher Nitin Daphalapurkar and his team do in modeling brain trauma that can be used to help predict life-threatening brain injuries. (Full Story)


For one LANL scientist, there's no I in team


Roger Wiens, LANL photo.


Roger Wiens, 61, has been part of two hugely successful NASA projects that have flown to Mars, first with the Curiosity mission that landed on the planet in 2012 and most recently with the ballyhooed Perseverance rover that got there last month.


Perseverance — an interstellar sports car; new, hot and outfitted with all the bells and whistles you can fit onto a rover that’s going to another planet — is getting all kinds of well-deserved attention. But last week, research co-authored by Wiens in the journal Geology showed Mars had a much more interesting climate — significant fluctuations between drier and wetter eras — before going dry a few billion years ago. (Full Story)


Colorado River basin due for more frequent, intense hydroclimate events


The Colorado River, from ENN.


In the vast Colorado River basin, climate change is driving extreme, interconnected events among earth-system elements such as weather and water. These events are becoming both more frequent and more intense and are best studied together, rather than in isolation, according to new research.


“We found that concurrent extreme hydroclimate events, such as high temperatures and unseasonable rain that quickly melt mountain snowpack to cause downstream floods, are projected to increase and intensify within several critical regions of the Colorado River basin,” said Katrina Bennett, a hydrologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the paper in the journal Water. “Concurrent extreme events of more than one kind, rather than isolated events of a single type, will be the ones that actually harm people, society, and the economy.” (Full Story)


Los Alamos National Lab first to receive Nvidia ‘Grace’ Arm CPU-based  supercomputer


Oceanic particle trajectories near the tip of Africa. LANL image.


Los Alamos National Laboratory will be the first United States customer to receive a supercomputer based on Nvidia’s new “Grace” Arm-based CPU, announced today, with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) as the system provider. Delivery is targeted for early 2023.


“With an innovative balance of memory bandwidth and capacity, this next-generation system will shape our institution’s computing strategy,” said Thom Mason, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director. “Thanks to NVIDIA’s new Grace CPU, we’ll be able to deliver advanced scientific research using high-fidelity 3D simulations and analytics with data sets that are larger than previously possible.” (Full Story)


Also from Next Platform and NextGov


Physicists on verge of discovering new subatomic particle


Photo from Fermilab.


Fermilab will continue to conduct experiments in years to come to gather more data on the anomaly. William Louis, who works at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says that work in New Mexico will be influenced by the Fermilab experiments.


“It will spur, you know, additional experiments,” Louis said. “I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and it certainly already I think is affecting people at Los Alamos planning new experiments. And this will also be true at universities around New Mexico, at New Mexico State, at the University of New Mexico, and so forth. And, you know, physicists here in New Mexico can do experiments locally, but also they'll be involved in experiments at national labs around the world.” (Full Story)


New method measures super-fast, free electron laser pulses


An optical shutter allows an ordinary camera to measure a femtosecond FEL pulse. LANL graphic.


New research shows how to measure the super-short bursts of high-frequency light emitted from free electron lasers (FELs). By using the light-induced ionization itself to create a femtosecond optical shutter, the technique encodes the electric field of the FEL pulse in a visible light pulse so that it can be measured with a standard, slow, visible-light camera.


"This work has the potential to lead to a new online diagnostic for FELs, where the exact pulse shape of each light pulse can be determined. That information can help both the end-user and the accelerator scientists," said Pamela Bowlan, Los Alamos National Laboratory's lead researcher on the project. (Full Story)


DNA breakthrough could finally make tape storage obsolete


Researchers based out of Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a new codec that minimizes the error rate when writing to molecular storage, as well as making any potential issues easier to correct.


“Our software, the Adaptive DNA Storage Codec (ADS Codex), translates data from what a computer understands into what biology understands,” explained Latchesar Ionkov, who heads up the project. “It’s like translating English to Chinese, only harder.” (Full Story)



New partnership to advance high-temperature PEM fuel cells; focus on heavy-duty applications


new partnership comprising Los Alamos National Laboratory, Advent Technology Holdings Inc., Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will work over the next few years to bring to market high-temperature proton exchange membrane (HT-PEM) fuel cells.


Traditional PEM fuel cells have a relatively low operating temperature, which makes for a low tolerance to hydrogen fuel impurities and makes waste-heat rejection a challenge for vehicles. (Full Story)



LANL offers startups $400k to relocate to northern New Mexico for new fellowship


new fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory offers entrepreneurs and startups hundreds of thousands of dollars and the chance to relocate to northern New Mexico.


Companies working to solve national security challenges using advanced materials, advanced computing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and space tech are welcome to apply for the two-year fellowship. The fellowship offers participants a yearly stipend of up to $100,000 in addition to health insurance and a travel allowance. Each project also receives $100,000 worth of technology-advancement support per year in collaboration with LANL and its network. (Full Story)

Twelve Los Alamos teams recognized for exceptional accomplishments


Twelve teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory were recipients of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure and Operations’ 2020 Excellence Awards, which recognizes exceptional accomplishments made in support of efforts to achieve NNSA’s mission.


“The Laboratory is proud of its many exceptional teams that were acknowledged with this award,” said Kelly Beierschmitt, deputy director of operations at Los Alamos. “Their successes demonstrate commitment to our core values of service, integrity, teamwork and excellence, which define our Laboratory and are directly responsible for the organization’s success. The fact that these employees’ achievements were recognized at such a high level is testament to that.” (Full Story)



To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, please e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.


Please visit us at