Who Are We?

Scientific Mentors

Dr. Rebecca Abergel, LBNL & UC Berkeley

Dr. Rebecca Abergel is the Heavy Element Chemistry Group Leader within the Chemical Sciences Division at LBNL, and an Associate Professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from the Universite Pierre & Marie Curie (Paris, France) and her Ph.D. in Bio-inorganic Chemistry from UC Berkeley. Dr. Abergel's research is at the interface of coordination chemistry, nuclear chemistry, radiochemistry, photophysics, chemical biology, health physics, pharmacology and molecular and cellular biology.

Dr. Lee Bernstein, LBNL & UC Berkeley

Dr. Lee Bernstein is the Bay Area Nuclear Data Group Leader at LBNL and the UC-Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering. He has over 25 years of experience in experimental nuclear physics with a specialization in measuring low-energy nuclear properties and cross sections. Dr. Bernstein is also an Associate Professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering where he teaches Nuclear Physics and Special Topics courses in Nuclear Security, Nuclear-Plasma Physics and the Origins of the Elements in Astrophysical Settings.

Dr. Heather Crawford, LBNL

Dr. Heather Crawford is a staff scientist in the Nuclear Structure Group within the Nuclear Science Division at LBNL. She received her B.Sc. in Chemistry at Simon Fraser University (in Burnaby, British Columbia), and her Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from Michigan State University. Her interests are in studying the structure of the most exotic atomic nuclei, and in developing the instrumentation necessary to perform the most sensitive measurements. Crawford is part of the project team developing GRETA, a next-generation gamma-ray spectrometer for nuclear science.

Dr. Nicholas Esker, San José State University

Dr. Nicholas Esker is a new professor at San José State University, where he teaches physical chemistry and researches nuclear chemistry. He is currently working to build up the targetry capabilities at SJSU, focusing on specialized methods for thin film production and characterization. Before he joined SJSU, he studied at TRIUMF (in Vancouver, British Columbia) and LBNL. If you're interested in learning more, please feel free to visit his website: sjsu.edu/esker or sending him an email: nicholas.esker@sjsu.edu

Dr. Jacklyn Gates, LBNL

Dr. Jacklyn Gates received her B.S. in chemistry from Westminster College in 2004 and her Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. She held a postdoctoral research position at the Technical University of Munich and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research before joining the Berkeley Lab staff in 2010. She is currently the group leader for the Heavy Element Group in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab. Her interests are in studying the production, chemistry and nuclear structure of the heaviest elements.

Dr. Bethany Goldblum, LBNL & UC Berkeley

Dr. Bethany Goldblum is a staff scientist in the Nuclear Science Division at LBNL and an associate research engineer in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley. Goldblum received a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley. Her research concentrates on low-energy nuclear physics, neutron detection, artificial intelligence for national security applications, and nuclear weapons policy. Goldblum leads the Bay Area Neutron Group, a research team focused on applied neutron physics for nuclear security applications, and founded and directs the Nuclear Policy Working Group, an interdisciplinary team of scholars developing policy solutions to strengthen global nuclear security.


Dr. Kevin Mitchell, UC Merced

Dr. Kevin Mitchell is a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Merced. Mitchell received a B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University, and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. His research addresses fundamental questions in non-linear dynamics and classical/quantum chaos, with applications to atomic and molecular physics.

Dr. Alan Poon, LBNL

Alan Poon received his BSc and PhD degrees from the University of British Columbia. He joined Berkeley Lab in1998, and is currently the Program Head of the Neutrinos Program and the Deputy Director of the Lab’s Nuclear Science Division. After contributing to the award-winning Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and KamLAND experiments that demonstrated neutrino oscillations in the solar and reactor neutrinos, he and his colleagues of the Neutrino Astrophysics Group have been exploring the mass properties of neutrinos in the MAJORANA, LEGEND, and KATRIN experiments, as well as implementing radiation detection technologies in other fields. He is passionate about science outreach and education, and organizes the annual Nuclear Science Day for Scouts event at Berkeley Lab.

Dr. Jennifer Pore, LBNL

Dr. Jennifer Pore's research interests are at the intersections of chemistry and nuclear physics. Presently she has been focused on new isotope discoveries, spectroscopy measurements, and chemical measurements utilizing nuclear reactions. Pore received her B.S. in chemistry from Mills College in Oakland and her Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from Simon Fraser University (in Burnaby, British Columbia) in 2016. She has been at Berkeley Lab in the Heavy Element Group since 2017.

Dr. Richard Seto, UC Riverside

Dr. Seto grew up in a small town south of Seattle, and then left the green forests and majestic mountains of the Pacific Northwest for the east coast to go to college. After getting his Ph.D. in high energy physics, he went to UC Riverside and switched into the field of Relativistic Heavy Ions, where he became the spokesperson of Experiment 917 at the Brookhaven National Lab. After the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider began operations, he joined the PHENIX experiment, and has now joined the STAR experiment where they plan to study the phase transition line between heavy nuclei and the QGP, a phase transition governed by the strong interaction.

Workforce Development

Colette Flood

Colette Flood is the Berkeley Lab Education Director for the Department of Energy Office of Science, Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) programs and the Manager of Workforce Development & Education (WD&E). She stewards all of the programs for WD&E. She is the main point of contact for LBNL divisions, community partners, faculty interns, and mentors.

Nakeiah Harrell

Nakeiah Harrell is the Internship Program Manager in the LBNL Workforce Development and Education Office. She manages internship programs and supports undergraduate, post baccalaureate, graduate, and faculty STEM education programs. Nakeiah collaboratively works with the WD&E Manager to provide support and coordination in program development and new initiatives for WD&E.

Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson is the Talent Outreach Program Manager in Human Resources and Recruiting at LBNL. Kelly leads lab-wide diversity outreach efforts at some of the largest multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural STEM events in the U.S. to support the Lab’s human capital needs and broaden resources and avenues to attract diverse talent.

Associate Mentors

Dr. Fatima Garcia

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Fatima Garcia obtained her PhD in 2021 from Simon Fraser University, conducting experiments at TRIUMF, where she studied neutron-rich species through beta and gamma decay spectroscopy using the GRIFFIN spectrometer. As part of the heavy elements group, she investigates the fundamental chemistry of the heaviest elements on the periodic table.

Dr. Björn Lehnert

Project Scientist

Dr. Björn Lehnert is a project scientist in the Neutrino Program of the Nuclear Science Division at LBNL. He did his Ph.D. at the Technical University Dresden, Germany, focusing on the fundamental nature of neutrinos, and afterwards he investigated dark matter with the DEAP-3600 experiment at Carleton University. His primary interest is data analysis of extremely rare nuclear decays and interactions which can shed light on some of the remaining secrets of the Universe.

Dr. Eric Matthews

Assistant Research Engineer

Dr. Eric Matthews is an Assistant Research Engineer in Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley, and received his PhD in Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley in May 2021. His thesis studies focused on the physics and nuclear data of fission.

Eric was a 2018-19 NNSA Graduate Fellow and was a fellow of UC Berkeley's Nuclear Science and Security Consortium between 2017 and 2021.

Dr. Rodney Orford

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Rodney Orford is a postdoc in the Heavy Element Group in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab. He studied physics at McGill University (in Montreal, Quebec), first earning a B.Sc. in 2012 and later receiving a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 2018. He conducted his graduate school research at Argonne National Lab as part of the ion trapping group with a focus on making precision mass measurements relevant to nuclear astrophysics. He joined Berkeley Lab in 2019.

Dr. Joanna Szornel

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Joanna Szornel is a postdoctoral scholar in the Applied Nuclear Physics group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She received a B.A. in physics and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from UC Berkeley. Joanna works on multiple projects focused on developing radiation detectors and instrumentation for radiation detector systems.