Electrical engineer for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Laura Kegelmeyer spoke to the Pedrozzi Young Scholars at Marylin Avenue School to explain her family’s journey from living in a small town in Central Italy to her being born in US and now the working on the largest laser in the world. Laura began her presentation by giving the students an insight into her family’s history.

In the presentation, she discussed how after World War II her parents and three of her five siblings made the move to the United States. This was where Laura and the rest of her siblings were born and raised. With many new opportunities, Laura grew up watching her siblings go to college and pursue subjects like math, engineering, and medicine. When it was time for her to choose what path she wanted to take, Laura decided to combine all her siblings’ interests. Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Boston University.

In addition to her family’s background, Laura also talked about how she got in the business of working with lasers. Originally, Laura worked on research that involved detecting early stages of breast cancer. Because of this work, Laura was able to found the National Ignition Facility’s automated optics inspection analysis effort. In her presentation, Laura explained that she was able to transfer the skills she learned from conducting her research to her current work of detecting damage in the lasers she works with.

As well as sharing information about her past, Laura also informed the students of her love for dancing, hiking, and puzzles. One of the highlights of the presentation was when Laura displayed some examples of the kinds of puzzles she enjoyed as a kid (and still does!), and allowed the Pedrozzi Young Scholars a chance to solve these puzzles on the spot. At the end of the presentation, the young scholars were handed a LLNL “swag bag” with fun books full of experiments and puzzles to try at home. Laura even signed the puzzle books.

The Pedrozzi Young Scholars had a great time learning about Laura’s career journey and how playing to your strengths and doing what you love can get you far. Big thank you to Laura Kegelmeyer!