Millie Firestone, a recent arrival at the Lab, is the deputy program manager of the Lab’s Office of National and Homeland Security. The office identifies and links Berkeley Lab researchers with national security needs and research opportunities, helps investigators to hone their message to funding agencies, and serves as a point of contact for government program managers.
Millie came from Los Alamos National Laboratory where she worked in the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, and prior to that at Argonne National Laboratory where she led a group in the Materials Science Division.
She is a city girl, having spent most of her adult life in Chicago where she did her postgraduate work at Northwestern University. Moving to New Mexico was a bit of a culture shock since the area is spread out and she could no longer walk to the corner store. Even so, her time in New Mexico kickstarted her appreciation for outdoor life. She’s been known to hike, bike, ski and even fly fish since she has moved west.
Elements: You started two months ago during the pandemic, so you haven’t had a chance to meet people in person, only via Zoom. Which groups have you met via Zoom, and who are you anxious to meet in person?
Millie: I have been in Zoom meetings with everyone from members of Lab Directorate, ALDs, Division Directors, and many scientists across the Lab. I want to meet everyone when I can actually come to the Lab.
Elements: The Office of National and Homeland Security sounds as if there are only a few areas of science that might be able to work with you to find project funding. Is that true?
Millie: Absolutely not. There are many opportunities across the laboratory that can seek funding through the Defense Department, homeland security, and intelligence communities. Some current areas of interest are biosecurity, biomanufacturing, resilience, sustainable materials, environmental remediation.
Elements: The story is that you stayed at the Lab’s Guest House when you came for a visit in January and you had an unexpected wake-up call. What woke you up, and how does that wake-up call compare to the wildlife you are used to at Los Alamos?
Millie: Turkeys! I thought I was dreaming and decided to finally get up and investigate. To my surprise a rafter of turkeys clustered under my window at the Guest House. The wildlife at Los Alamos is a bit more dangerous. In late summer to fall black bears will greet you in the early morning or at dusk, sitting on picnic benches or hanging out with the gas cylinders near the loading docks. Los Alamos also has many bobcats and herd of elk that block the main truck route in and out of the lab.