Keevama Awarded 2017 Thomas Intrator Scholarship

Erica Keevama, recipient of the 2017 Thomas Intrator scholarship. Jessica Booton Photography,


The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation announced this week that the 2017 Thomas Intrator Scholarship has been awarded to Erica Keevama.

The scholarship honors Thomas Intrator, who was a distinguished plasma physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The funds for the scholarship are distributed by the LAPS Foundation.

Intrator encouraged, fostered and practiced a sense of curiosity. His inquisitiveness and occasional “militant naiveté” defined his approach not just professionally in physics, but in life. Wonder at the natural world, and a drive to understand, were moral imperatives that he hoped to instill in those around him.

The scholarship each year goes to a student who earnestly adapts these principles towards application in a STEM major.

Applicants were asked to respond to the following question: “To what degree should curiosity-driven research that may not have immediate social or commercial application be funded by the government or private agencies, and why?” Keevama wrote that the pursuit of knowledge to gain a better understanding of the unknown is worth funding, that long term research is essential for meaningful data collection, and that longitudinal studies often provide a multitude of outcomes, rarely projected by the scientist.

Keevama is the daughter of Frances Keevama. She plans to attend Whitman College and study biology/psychology. Her ultimate goal is to become a pediatrician.

“Thomas admired people who had determination, were conscientious, hard-working, interesting, ambitious, and clever,” said Lysa Intrator in a statement on behalf of the family. “Erica embodies all these qualities. She participates in sports, volunteers in the community, holds a job, and is an active member of two tribal communities as well as attending Los Alamos High School. Erica’s essay answer considering the need to fund curiosity based research would have warmed Thomas’s heart. The Intrator family wishes her all the best in her future endeavors.”

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