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LANL Foundation Awards $741,000 to 110 Northern New Mexico Scholarship Recipients

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation, in partnership with the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF), has awarded $741,000 during its 2020 four-year scholarship cycle. These scholarships will support the educational goals of 110 Northern New Mexico students.

Three graduating seniors, Monica Chavez, New Mexico School for the Deaf, Lillian Peterson, Los Alamos High School and Kyran Romero, Santa Fe Indian School, were awarded the top-level $20,000 Gold Scholarship.

Chavez has been accepted to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she plans on channeling her love of math into becoming an engineer. Chavez is a first-generation college student from Sandoval County who has overcome many challenges to reach her goals. She has dedicated significant time volunteering with Assistance Dogs of the West and actively works to bridge the divide between the deaf and hearing world. Chavez wants to excel in her field, hoping to become a famous engineer who invents something.

Romero intends to pursue a degree in physics, computer science or engineering. He is deeply committed to serving his Jemez Pueblo community and feels that his mission in life is to not only provide for himself and his family, but to make sure that every member of his community has the opportunity to explore and pursue their passion. He has participated in the Summer Policy Academy to develop awareness of issues facing Native communities and policy-level change to address these challenges. Romero believes his Native culture provides him with a unique and valuable perspective on many STEM fields and looks forward to further exploring the connection between science and Native cultural knowledge.

Peterson is deeply committed to protecting the environment and solving global issues stemming from climate change. She has published independent research in multiple peer-reviewed journals, including research that predicts crop yields in every country in Africa to help countries prevent hunger and malnourishment by predicting and preparing for food shortages. She has been accepted to Harvard and plans to study applied math, with a focus on molecular biology and computer science.

Two new scholarships were awarded for the first time this year.

The Sheila Morris Luna Memorial Scholarship is a $20,000 award designated for one outstanding female student with financial need pursuing a STEM degree at a New Mexico college or university. Ayeh Safi, a senior at Capital High School, is the first recipient. Safi, who is the first in her family to graduate high school, intends to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. Ayeh plans to use her degree to help create renewable and sustainable sources of energy. She also intends to be a role-model who encourages other Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab girls empower themselves through education.

The $10,000 Bryan Fearey & Maureen Connolly Scholarship for Science and the Arts honors the couple’s enduring commitment to science serving the nation’s national security needs and provides financial support to students with an interest in chemistry and a passion for performance music and/or visual arts. The first recipient is Estrellita Sena, who is graduating from Española Valley High School. Sena is a first-generation college student who intends to major in chemistry and pursue a career in forensic science. She serves as captain of her Varsity Cheer Team, sings in Worship Band and participated in the LANL Summer Physics Camp for Young Women. Her love of chemistry has grown throughout her high school years. “All the possibilities it brings, all the explanations to so many of my childhood questions, made me yearn for more.”

LANL scholarships support graduating high school seniors and current undergraduate students pursuing a four-year degree in any field of study. All winners maintain primary residence in the seven Northern New Mexico counties surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory—Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Taos, and have met rigorous academic and merit-based requirements. Academic achievement, leadership, service, financial need and overcoming life challenges are all taken into consideration.  Certain award levels are determined by additional qualifications, including the pursuit of degrees in specific fields of study, first-generation college students, Native American students, outstanding leadership, higher financial need, resiliency and determination, and residency in certain communities.

“These students have worked incredibly hard to position themselves to be ready for a four-year college. They’ve demonstrated the tenets of our scholarship, which are academic achievement, leadership and service. They’ve done their part. And for many of them, financial support is the piece that is missing in order to make their dream possible. We’re able to provide that,” said Mike Ammerman, Scholarship Program Manager.

“For others, the acknowledgement and the opportunity to be part of this LANL Scholars community may be the most valuable benefit of receiving the award. This opens up the opportunity for them to be part of a network of other high-performing people from the region who care about New Mexico and want to give back, including giving back to the program as alumni.”

The scholarship program also generates many professional opportunities for students, ranging from employment at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to internships and/or employment in other fields. LANL also prioritizes scholarship recipients for its very competitive internship program.

By the Numbers:

42 percent of recipients reported family income of less than $50,000
8 of the top 10 scholars to receive a Gold/Silver/Copper Scholarship are first-generation college students.
Recipient Gender: 61 percent female, 37 percent male, 1 percent non-binary
More than half of all Native American applicants received a scholarship, including recipients from Picuris, Ohkay Owingeh, Jemez, Zuni and Pojoaque Pueblos.
3 recipients are former Career Pathways Scholarship recipients who have transitioned to full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

2020 awards by reported ethnicity are:

Asian/Asian American: 10 recipients (9%)
White/Caucasian: 35 recipients (32%)
Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin: 46 recipients (42%)
Black/African American: 2 recipients (2%)
American Indian/Alaska Native: 8 recipients (7%)
Other: 1 recipient (.1%)
Decline to state: 8 recipients (7%)

2020 awards by county of residence within scholarship service area are:

Los Alamos County: 15 recipients, $100,000
Mora County: 2 recipients, $16,000
Rio Arriba County: 19 recipients, $71,5000
San Miguel County: 5 recipients, $51,000
Sandoval County: 7 recipients, $78,000
Santa Fe County:  44 recipients, $308,000
Taos County: 18 recipients, $116,500

Giving to Scholarships

The scholarship program and funds are managed and administered by the nonprofit LANL Foundation. Award selections, student outreach and programmatic support are provided by an advisory committee of volunteer donors.

Laboratory fundraising efforts are led by the LANL Community Partnerships Office. The annual scholarship fundraising campaign will be conducted in May 2020. Lab employees may donate year-round to a variety of funds through the LANL Giving Tool.

LANL Foundation also accepts direct contributions at and assists donors in creating individual endowed awards with defined selections criteria upon request.

Since 1999, Northern New Mexico students have been awarded 1,915 scholarships totaling more than $8.5 million from LAESF, over $5 million of which came directly from LANL employees.

For more information, contact Mike Ammerman at or 505-753-8890 ext. 115.

Complete list of additional scholarship recipients.

Three students received $15,000 Silver Scholarships:

Cambria Barnes, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School
Lexy Lujan, Española Valley High School
Aaron Ortiz, Pecos High School

Four students received $10,000 Copper Scholarships:

Valeria Cera Primero, The Academy for Technology and the Classics
Tenzin Gendun, Capital High School
Nialo Kinney, Taos High School
Thaddeus White, The MASTERS Program

Senator Pete Domenici Scholarships, named after the late U.S. Senator (R-N.M.), are $10,000 awards given to one recipient from each of the seven counties served by the scholarship program. Recipients of the Domenici Scholarships are:

Evan Chilton-Garcia, Taos High School (Taos County)
Sarah Crotzer, Los Alamos High School (Los Alamos County)
Krysta Cunico, Robertson High School (San Miguel County)
Michael Garcia, Mesa Vista High School (Rio Arriba County)
Sebastian Hernandez, Cuba High School (Sandoval County)
Amiree Olivas, Taos High School (Mora County)
Mateo Perez, Santa Fe Preparatory School (Santa Fe County)

Susan Herrera Scholarship, named after the founding LANL Foundation CEO, provides $10,000 in financial assistance. Yazmin Cintron of Santa Fe High School is this year’s recipient.

Fifteen students received John & Marti Browne Leadership Scholarships, named for the former Laboratory director and his wife, a $10,000 award. Triad National Security, LLC, generously funds 10 Leadership scholarships.

Angelina Archuleta, Peñasco High School
Veroaylin Campos, The Academy for Technology and the Classics
Malcolm Ehlers, Mandela International Magnet School
Tammy Hashey, University of New Mexico
Alyvia Hogan, Mandela International Magnet School
David Lopez Amaya, West Las Vegas High School
Joselyne Ochoa, Capital High School
Arianna Ortega, Questa High School
Mara Penfil, University of New Mexico
Paloma Sandoval, Capital High School
Julie Schochet, University of New Mexico – Taos
Joseph Spaulding, West Las Vegas High School
Adrianna Tafoya, Peñasco High School
Abigail Wilcox, The MASTERS Program
Bri Yellowhorse, Santa Fe Waldorf School

The Don & Connie Cobb Education Scholarship, a $6,000 scholarship for students pursuing education degrees, went to Adrienne Rugg, New Mexico School for the Arts.

Savannah Palmer, Monte del Sol Charter School, is this year’s recipient of the Nancy & Jeffrey Sauer Scholarship, a $4,000 award that supports studies in physical or environmental sciences.

The largest award category of Bronze Scholarships had 59 recipients, each receiving $1,500 a year for up to four years, a maximum total of $6,000.

Giulia Aimale, St. Michael’s High School
Apollo Albright, Santa Fe Preparatory School
Hunter Alcon, Mora High School
Nicole Aldaz, New Mexico State University
Grace Alexander, Dominican University of California
Megan Archuleta, McCurdy Charter School
Summer Armijo-Rotunno, Santa Fe High School  
Gabriela Baca, University of New Mexico
Talia Ben-Naim, Los Alamos High School
Eamon BenSlama-McKinley, The Academy for Technology and the Classics
Zoey Birdsong, Taos High School
Malina Brannen, American University
Flor Castillo, Bernalillo High School
Celia Chavez, Cuba High School
Katia Chavez, Santa Fe High School
Viana Chung, Robertson High School
Miranda Cordova, Pojoaque Valley High School
Isabel Crooker, Los Alamos High School
Logan Forman, Santa Fe Community College
Odin Frostad, The Academy for Technology and the Classics
Sruthi Garimella, Los Alamos High School
Michaela Glinsky, Desert Academy
Eleanor Henderson, Los Alamos High School
Emily Holmes, Los Alamos High School
Wyatt Horan, Escalante High School
Cinlong Huang, Los Alamos High School
Malea Joyce, Los Alamos High School
Kelden Larsen, Taos High School
Emma Lawrence, Santa Fe Preparatory School
Esther Lescht, Northern New Mexico College
Amy Lewis, Taos High School
Milan Lombardo, The Academy for Technology and the Classics
Ryan LoRusso, Santa Fe Preparatory School
Tenzin Lungtok, Santa Fe High School
Ariana MacAuley, Peñasco High School
Daisy Madrid, Capital High School
Christian Martinez, Capital High School
Harvey McGuinness, Santa Fe High School
Miranda Montoya, Española Valley High School
Nilesh Mukundan, Los Alamos High School
Gopal Nadiga, Los Alamos High School
Rowan Nadon, Santa Fe High School
Samantha Olivas Loo, Capital High School
Danny Orr, Escalante High School
Krystah Pacheco, Taos High School
Edwardo Pena, Capital High School
Etta Pope, The Academy for Technology and the Classics
Isabelle Rael, Questa High School
Joselinn Rascon, Northern New Mexico College
Isaac Ronning, Los Alamos High School
Reyes Roybal, Northern New Mexico College
Neha Sadasivan, Los Alamos High School
Stephen Salazar, Española Valley High School
Justin Sanchez, St. Michael’s High School
Julia Shang, University of New Mexico – Taos
Madeline Steinberg, Taos High School
Andres Tiede, Pojoaque Valley High School
Robert Trujillo, Taos High School
Carl Weinmeister, University of New Mexico

Named and Memorial Scholarships

Several scholarships have been established by individuals or organizations in partnership with the LANL Foundation in recognition of a loved one, esteemed colleague or area of study.

The Abiquiú Land Grant – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Scholarship is awarded to students who are descendants of an Abiquiú Land Grant family. This year’s recipients are Noelle Gallegos, currently attending Washington State University, and Tayler Suazo, a student at the University of New Mexico.

The NNM American Society of Mechanical Engineers Scholarship (ASME) is a $1,000 scholarship for those pursuing mechanical or other engineering fields. This year’s recipients are Miguel Chacon Cuesta, Los Alamos High School, and Sebastian Rubio-Olivas, Pojoaque Valley High School.

Climate Change Leadership Institute Earth & Environmental Science Scholarship Fund, supported by LANL and the Climate Change Leadership Institute (CCLI), provides a one-year $1,000 scholarship to support students pursuing degrees in Earth and environmental science fields, including ecology and environmental/climate stewardship. Reyes Roybal, Northern New Mexico College, is this year’s recipient. Roybal also received a Bronze Scholarship.

The Raymond M. Chavez Memorial Scholarship awards $2,500 to a Chimayó/Española Valley resident with exceptional community service. Michaela Martinez, Pojoaque Valley High School, is this year’s recipient.

Zoe Archuleta, Escalante High School, received the William & Gertrude Fradkin Memorial Scholarship, which provides $1,000 to a student exhibiting high moral character and financial need.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (EEE) Scholarship awards $1,000 to a student  pursuing electrical or other engineering fields with high financial need. Sheila Morris Luna Memorial Scholarship recipient Ayeh Safi, Capital High School, also received this award.

Joselyne Ochoa, Capital High School, received the Allan Johnston Memorial Scholarship, a $1,000 award for students pursuing business-related fields. Ochoa also received a John & Marti Browne Leadership Scholarship.

The Bret Knapp Memorial Scholarship, awarded to a student who demonstrates strong leadership and is pursuing a mechanical, or similar, engineering degree, went to Xavier Lujan-Flores, V. Sue Cleveland High School.

LANL Workforce Retirees’ Scholarship support students pursuing degrees critical to the needs of the Laboratory and the region. Teresa Dominguez, Pojoaque Valley High School, is this year’s recipient.

Mesa Vista High School graduates are the beneficiaries of the $1,000 Tim Martin Memorial Scholarship. This year’s awards went to Gabriella Archuleta, Michael Garcia (also a Domenici Scholar), and Daniel Gollas.

Mara Penfil, University of New Mexico, received the Marvin Martin Mueller Memorial Scholarship award for her commitment to making the world a better place for others. Penfil also received a John & Marti Browne Leadership Scholarship.

The $1,000 Rae Lee Siporin Scholarship is awarded to female first-generation college students and female Native American students. Makayla Duran, Pojoaque Valley High School, Danielle Kaye, Española Valley High School, Zoe Martinez, Arizona State University, and Karina Tarango, Capital High School, received this year’s awards.


The Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund began in 1998 and gets its name from the main source of donations: Los Alamos National Laboratory employees, contractors and retirees. Donations also come from community members and local businesses that value education and economic development in the region.

About the LANL Foundation (
Since 1997, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has worked to inspire excellence in education and learning in Northern New Mexico through innovative programming, collaboration and advocacy. By investing in human potential, the Foundation’s vision is that all New Mexicans have the skills and confidence they need to be self-sufficient, lifelong learners who are engaged in their communities. Programs in early childhood, K–12 education with support of teacher professional development and STEM inquiry, scholarships and small grants serve Northern New Mexico communities primarily in Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Taos counties.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory (
Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. 

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.