Sandia Labs News Releases

Sandia honors young women for outstanding achievement in math and science

LIVERMORE, Calif.— Sandia National Laboratories in California recently presented its annual Math and  Science Awards to 22 young women from area high schools. The event celebrates the academic accomplishments of the recipients and their great potential as they prepare for the next phase of their lives.

“Science, technology and engineering are so important for this country as we move forward,” said Bob Carling, director of Sandia’s Transportation Energy Center. “We hope every one of these award recipients continues to have the same enthusiasm they’ve already shown for these subjects.”

Christine Xu, a student at Amador Valley High School, receives an award from Sandia National Laboratories\’ Bob Carling in the science category. The annual Math and Science Awards are sponsored by the Sandia Women\’s Connection. (Photo by Jeff McMillan) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

Now in its 22nd year, the Math and Science Awards program is sponsored by the Sandia Women’s Connection. The event was held once again on the Sandia campus, in the Combustion Research Computation and Visualization (CRCV) building at the Livermore Valley Open Campus (LVOC).

Teachers from 11 high schools in Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, Tracy and Manteca, Calif., each nominated two students, one for outstanding achievement in math and one for outstanding achievement in science. The award is given to young women in their junior year of high school so they can include it on their college and scholarship applications.

Before the recognitions began, the awardees and their families met their Sandia hosts, women with careers in math and science. Sandia researcher Donna Djordjevich-Reyna shared her Ground Truth Homeland Security training video game platform, which seeks to immerse first responders in an interactive gaming environment depicting high-risk, high-threat situations.

To start off the awards ceremony, mechanical engineer Patricia Gharagozloo and software engineer Karla Morris shared their personal stories. While their paths were quite different, they started with something in common — in high school, neither saw herself becoming an engineer.

Cathy Branda, the event chairwoman, explained another reason for recognizing high school juniors. “Studies show that high school is a time when many girls decide not to pursue math and science in college and in their careers,” she said. “So many doors are open to you now. You have no idea what you can accomplish by excelling in math and science.”

The words of the speakers resonated with many of the young women in attendance. “I think for high school juniors who are full of angst about choosing the right college and major, this is a good message to hear — that you don’t have to have it all figured out right now,” said Jocelyn Mork, mother of Granada High School science award recipient Kirsten Mork.

“The speakers were inspiring and entertaining,” said Ariana Mancieri, math award recipient from Livermore High School. “It is reassuring that they didn’t know exactly what they wanted to do in high school.” She thinks she wants to become a pediatrician – or maybe not. What Ariana does know is that she loves science, and that is a good place to start.

The winners of the 2013 Sandia Math and Science Awards:

Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics

  • Jennifer Tao, Amador High School
  • Kimberli Zhong, Dublin High School
  • Victoria Vezaldenos, East Union High School
  • Annie Pan, Foothill High School
  • Tatiana Jansen, Granada High School
  • Ariana Mancieri, Livermore High School
  • Ashleigh Quynh-Trang Nguyen, Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School
  • Anna Kepa, Manteca High School
  • Harmanjit Kaur Sodhi, Merrill F. West High School
  • Fabiola Lopez, Sierra West High School
  • Inyoung Hong, Tracy High School

Outstanding Achievement in Science

  • Christine Xu, Amador Valley High School
  • Ming Yin Kwong, Dublin High School
  • Brooke Niendorf, East Union High School
  • Diane Frances Hadley, Foothill High School
  • Kirsten Mork, Granada High School
  • Mariah Mathat, Livermore High School
  • Julia DiSimone, Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School
  • Poonam Dehal, Manteca High School
  • Arianne Coleto, Merrill F. West High School
  • Leonor Borges, Sierra West High School
  • Sarah Bai, Tracy High School

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin company, 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: Mike Janes,, (925) 294-2447