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LANL Postdoctural Program Manager Mary Anne With Receives 2019 NPS Distinguished Service Award

on May 29, 2019 - 7:33am

2019 NPS Distinguished Service Award Recipient Mary Anne With

LANL News:

Mary Anne With of the Office of Partnerships and Pipeline, PPO, at Los Alamos National Laboratory is the recipient of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA)’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award.

The community is invited to join the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows in a celebration of With's incomparable contributions to the Laboratory since she joined the Postdoc program in 1991.

The event is 3-6 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 at Fuller Lodge.

2019 Distinguished Service Award Recipient, Mary Anne With: The Heart and Soul of Los Alamos National Laboratory

By SIMONE OTTO
NPA

The NPA is proud to announce the 2019 Distinguished Service Award Recipient, Mary Anne With, program manager of the Postdoctoral Program at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

With has been a member of the NPA since its establishment in 2003, and in 28 years of service has influenced the careers of over 10,000 postdocs. NPA will present With with the award at the 2019 Annual Conference.

With is being honored for her pioneering changes to the LANL postdoctoral program, her positive influence on the postdoctoral experience at a local and national level, her advocacy for and contribution to the professional development of the LANL postdoctoral scholars, and the many opportunities she has helped create for postdoc research and career advancement.

For With, there cannot be enough hours in the day. She acquired her strong work ethic from her father, who was her inspiration. He was a self-made businessman and the breadwinner of his family from a very young age. From him, she says she learned that “in order to achieve you have to work hard and never expect things to be given to you.”

With has worked hard from the day she joined the postdoc program at LANL in 1991. At that time, the program was located in the Human Resources Division. She knew she could do more for the postdocs and advocate for more change if her department was moved to a science based organization. This was the first of many important changes to come.

By positioning the postdoctoral program this way, With leads the postdoctoral committee and its rigorous review process that guides the selection of the best and brightest postdoc candidates to join the over 400 postdocs working at LANL, and from here she can begin the work of advocating for postdocs before they even meet her.

Through her constant hard work, With has brought many pioneering programs to LANL. Blas Pedro Uberuaga, PhD, a scientist at LANL and former chair of the laboratory’s postdoctoral review committee, said, “If I could characterize the postdoc program at LANL in one word, it would be dynamic. Mary Anne is never willing to coast on past success.”

It is this willingness to take chances to move forward, combined with a strong personal caring for each individual postdoc that marks With as a true leader.

For instance, in 2006, noting the lack of communication and coordination between the national laboratories postdoctoral programs, she worked with the NPA to come up with ideas for a unified program. From these discussions, she established a national laboratory postdoctoral program forum for postdoc program coordinators from all of the DOE laboratories.

The members of this forum have put together a national lab resource guide, and share information on how to get an office or a program started. These exchanges have made With a national leader, often consulted about best practices.

But for With, the touching moments are when she receives letters from postdocs who have passed through LANL, talking about the impact she has had on their lives and families, and the important ways she helped them become connected to their local and scientific communities. Although there have been opportunities to move up throughout the years, she loves what she is doing and intends to go on helping postdocs as long as she is able.

This caring is appreciated by everyone around her. “Her encouragement and belief in my abilities has been a foundation I have turned to,” said Antonya Sanders, MBA, senior planning and program analyst at Aramco Services Company, who previously worked in the Postdoc Program Office. “Her knowledge of the program and the laboratory, along with her strong ethics to be helpful and do her best, were inspirational to me early in my career but also through the years.”

“What stands out the most to me is Mary Anne’s dedication to the postdocs themselves. She knows them all. She knows their science and she knows their interests outside of the lab,” said Uberuaga. He added, “She knows the postdoc program so well that she can recall important statistics in terms of program performance, gender diversity, and the types of science that are most represented.”

This is how Sanders describes With. It is this deep knowledge and caring that has led her to be such a brilliant advocate for the postdocs at LANL. She feels honored to work among the talented postdocs that pass through her institution, and feels they deserve recognition. This caring is her motivation for initiatives that range from the career development offerings, such as CV writing, behavioral interviewing, and giving an effective seminar, to extraordinary, such as the Science in “3” initiative, in which the postdocs are challenged to sell their science in 3 minutes or less at a Scientific American level, with no questions, to a panel of external judges.

Realizing that not all postdocs would remain at the institute, she started an external career fair to provide LANL postdocs and students an opportunity to connect with companies and form networks and forge relationships that could strengthen their careers, including employment opportunities.

In addition to helping improve postdoc programs nationally through her establishment of the National Lab Postdoc Program Resource Guide, she also created an annual survey, program exit survey, and a program database to track extensive program demographics.

“At any and all opportunities,” Uberuaga adds, “Mary Anne will describe the great science that the postdocs are doing to anyone who will listen. She makes sure everyone is aware of the importance, breadth, and impact of the science that the lab’s postdoc population is engaged in. Through her hard work (it is amazing how responsive Mary Anne is, at all times of day, to even the most mundane of queries), she has built a program that is stands out in both its commitment to postdocs and the lab.”

When asked if she had any advice she could share with others, With said, “Don’t limit yourself to the general description of the position you are seeking.” The program she started with is worlds away from the program as it exists today. This is due to her willingness to seek support when she saw the need for change, and to provide support when the postdocs at LANL sought to make changes.

Shadi Deyeh, PhD, a previous LANL distinguished Oppenheimer postdoc fellow and now principal investigator, Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Laboratory,UCSD, remembers, “When my colleagues and I proposed to start a postdoctoral research day to offer postdocs the opportunity to present their research at LANL on an annual basis, and to provide an environment for enhanced collaboration and technical discussions among postdocs, Mary Anne promptly lined up meetings with upper management, sought resources for supporting the initiative, and gave postdocs the opportunity to develop and lead the initiative – an excellent example being a leader that nurtures and multiplies the leadership in others.”

Under her leadership, a number of Distinguished and Named Fellow appointments have been established. These prestigious appointments are awarded thru a rigorous review process and approximately 40 are selected annually, including Director’s postdoc fellow appointments. With recognizes talent, and will fight to get it the recognition it deserves, as demonstrated thru the creation of the Distinguished Performance Awards, Distinguished Mentor Awards, and multiple publication awards that grant recognition to the postdocs and mentors she works with at LANL.

But more than that, she knows each individual postdoc, as if they were family. Because they are that close, With tries every day to go beyond the expected—because she knows that hard work pays off in the end—and that is how she has made her mark. As Uberuaga said, “Mary Anne is one of those people that make an institution run. The Postdoc Program is an enormously vital part of work and life at LANL and that is a direct consequence of Mary Anne’s efforts.”


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