Sandia Labs News Releases

High school girls honored for math, science achievements

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Sandia National Laboratories’ California site recently presented its annual Math and Science Awards to 27 girls from area high schools, celebrating their academic accomplishments and potential.

Renae Preston, a student at East Union High School, is all smiles after receiving her award for outstanding achievement in science at Sandia’s 23rd annual Math and Science Awards. (Photo courtesy of Sandia Labs) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

“For more than two decades, Sandia has recognized young women from various public schools for academic excellence,” said the vice president of Sandia’s California site, Steve Rottler. “Studies show that the transition between high school and college is a critical point when many girls turn away from science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. Through this program, we hope to highlight your potential in these subjects and introduce you to a number of successful women scientists and engineers.”

Now in its 23rd year, the Math and Science Awards program is sponsored by the Sandia Women’s Connection. This year’s event honored more students, with the addition of four high schools in Oakland, Calif., and included recognition of the students by federal and state officials.

Teachers from 15 high schools in Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, Tracy, Manteca and Oakland nominated high school juniors whom they deemed outstanding in math and science, so the students can include the award on college and scholarship applications.

At the May 21 ceremony, awardees and their families discussed careers in math and science with Sandia leaders and female researchers. Two Sandia researchers, mathematician Lindsay Erickson and mechanical engineer Jackie Chen, shared their personal stories at the podium.

“Looking back to high school, I don’t think I even knew jobs like these existed,” said Erickson. “My advice is that it is OK to fail, and be sure to ask your teachers plenty of questions.”

Chen encouraged the award recipients to think broadly and pursue more than one discipline. “The most interesting work is at the intersection of multiple disciplines,” she said. “In my work as a computational combustion researcher, we seek to understand chemistry, turbulence and reactive flows, and incorporate that knowledge into developing future fuel-efficient, clean burning engines. This draws upon computer science, fluid dynamics, chemistry and applied math.”

Malin Young, director of Sandia’s Biological and Materials Sciences Center, handed out the awards. The honorees also received certificates of achievement from Cheri Greven, representing U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell; Michael Anderson, representing U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham; and Gayle Larson, representing Assemblymember Joan Buchanan. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier gave certificates to the recipients in advance.

“This is such a great event. It’s a real honor to be recognized,” said Sraavya Kakarlapudi, science award recipient from Dublin High School. “The speakers were very impressive and inspiring.”

Parents and teachers who attended praised the award and event. “As a parent, it’s nice to see my daughter and these other young women recognized and rewarded for their hard work,” said Kenneth Preston, father of Renae Preston, the science winner from East Union High School in Manteca, Calif. “It’s great for them to learn about so many different career possibilities.”

The winners of the 2014 Sandia Math and Science Awards:

Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics

  • Cynthia Chen, Amador High School
  • Sophia Hui, Dublin High School
  • Tabatha Barrington, East Union High School
  • Suman Tripathy, Foothill High School
  • Carmen Jimenez, Fremont High School
  • Morgan Correia, Granada High School
  • Megan Kristovich, Livermore High School
  • Andrea Ludwig, Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School
  • Emily Ritter, Manteca High School
  • Emily Wittkowske, Merrill F. West High School
  • Maleny Calderon, Skyline High School
  • Ameryl Loi, Tracy High School

Outstanding Achievement in Science

  • Megan Gupta, Amador High School
  • Sandra Vivian, Castlemont High School
  • Malia Lapota, Coliseum College Prep Academy
  • Sraavya Kakarlapudi, Dublin High School
  • Renae Preston, East Union High School
  • Katie Liu, Foothill High School
  • Rosa Contreras, Fremont High School
  • Vanessa Valenti, Granada High School
  • Kristen Young, Livermore High School
  • Hannah Hallikainen, Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School
  • Bianca Arao, Manteca High School
  • Brianna Sandoval, Merrill F. West High School
  • Nicole Arteaga, Sierra West High School
  • Abigail Wong-Rolle, Skyline High School
  • Makaela Bournazian, Tracy High School

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Patti Koning,, (925) 294-4911