Berkeley Lab

ATAP Researcher Mentors Indigenous Student

Arizona State Univerity students pose with Berkeley Lab mentors and program coordinators in the Integrated Genomics Building. Back row (left to right): Alexander Picksley, Benjamin Gilbert, Trent Northen, Hans Johansen (Berkeley Lab). Front row (left to right): Jordan Barriga, Hózhóó Emerson, Hannah Nockideneh (Arizona State University); Karla Arredondo, Grace Lau, and Laleh Coté (Berkeley Lab). (Credit: Massie Ballon/Berkeley Lab)

By Carl A. Williams, December 14, 2023

ATAP is committed to nurturing the next generation of scientists by actively participating in outreach and educational activities. These activities include mentoring students, which can help support career development and benefit the mentee, mentor, and organization.

The Lab encourages all of our employees to take on mentoring opportunities.

This summer, Alex Picksley, a research scientist from ATAP’s BELLA Center, mentored Arizona State University (ASU) undergraduate student Hannah Nockideneh as part of the ASU-Berkeley Lab STEM Pathways Program. The eight-week program aims to develop and foster educational pathways for undergraduate Indigenous students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.

“Mentoring Hannah was an enriching experience,” says Picksley. “The project I set for Hannah required some in-depth understanding of optics and experimental skills that were new to her.”

He says the project, “Characterizing Gas Jet Density for Laser-Plasma Accelerators,” sought to determine the characteristics of several new gas jet components to influence the design of future targets for high electron energy gain in laser-plasma accelerators.

“Hannah gained a lot of hands-on experience,” he notes, improving their practical skills and understanding of physics. He added that the experience “allowed me to share my knowledge and develop my teaching skills.”

“I also learned a lot about the challenges Native American students face in higher education. I hope that in future years, we will be able to welcome more students to ATAP and BELLA through this program.”

Nockideneh was one of four students who were the first to participate in the inaugural program. The other three students were Jordan Barriga, Hózhóó Emerson, and Kai-Se’ Toledo.

To find out what the students gained from the experience, click here.

Click here to learn more about the ASU-Berkeley Lab STEM Pathways Program.


For more information on ATAP News articles, contact Carl A. Williams (