Recap: Mason, Keith host first virtual public town hall of 2024

Re-watch discussion on safety, economic impact, giving and more

Viewers from around the region tuned in April 3 for a virtual public town hall featuring Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason and special guest Kathy Keith, director of the Laboratory’s Community Partnerships Office. 

Filming live at the Laboratory’s leased facility on Pacheco Street in Santa Fe, the pair covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • Workforce development
  • Philanthropy
  • Small business support
  • Educational partnerships and pipelines
  • Laboratory safety
  • Campus infrastructure
  • The “Oppenheimer” movie
  • Much more

Mason led the night’s discussion with an overview of Laboratory programs and operations, covering recent developments in key research areas like artificial intelligence. (1:13) The Lab is gearing up for the public announcement of its partnership with NVIDIA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to launch its new Venado supercomputer (2:54), which, among other things, is well suited to providing outstanding capabilities for both AI training and for simulating complex physical systems like weather, the dynamics of ocean ice, and fusion energy. 

On the safety front, Mason covered on-site initiatives to boost employee safety during commutes to and from work. (7:33) One major step the Lab is taking to achieve that will be the installation of speed cameras around campus that will help deter and track bad behavior behind the wheel. The Lab is also working closely with local law enforcement agencies to increase patrols and ticketing off-site in the immediate vicinity of campus. 

In FY24, Keith noted that Triad is set to give $3 million to benefit area nonprofits, students, and businesses through its annual Community Commitment Plan. The increase in dollars includes support given to the opening and operation of the new child care facility in the Los Alamos townsite and the launch of a new early childhood education program at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. Other topics of interest on the community front included volunteerism, employee giving, and the Lab’s powerful impact on the region’s economy. (14:42)

Mason and Keith spent the majority of the event fielding inquiries from the public and even dispelled a few rumors, including one about Laboratory “plans” to host a low-level waste storage facility on-site. No such facility exists or will be built, Mason said, noting that there may be public misinterpretation of how the Lab’s Low-level Liquid Waste Facility (LLW) and its Transuranic Liquid Waste Facility (TLW) operate. The facilities are meant to enable safe and reliable collection, storage, treatment and discharge of liquid waste. LLW is currently in operation, with TLW expected to open in 2027. (20:52)

You can watch a recording of the entire event.