Christopher Guerrero

From SULI intern to DOE National Lab employee

Internship program: SULI
Year: 2013
Undergraduate institution: Fordham University
Major: Physics
Host DOE laboratory: Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, New York

What was your research topic during your internship?
My research topic was “on-the-fly” scanning using microspectroscopy and x-ray fluorescence. I developed Python code for beamline data acquisition and analysis, which means scientists can run experiments with synchrotron x-rays to find quantities and sizes of elements in samples. One particularly exciting part of my internship was applying the methods I developed in an experiment to find traces of arsenic in dust and soil samples from a gold mine in Brazil.

What was it like coming to a National Lab for your internship?
Working and living at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) was different from my experience in a liberal arts college both academically and socially. Academically, most at a national lab have a STEM background, while at my college there were students and faculty in different fields of study. Therefore, I was able to socialize with people at Brookhaven who had similar backgrounds and found a community that supported my personal interests and aspirations.

What do you currently do, and where do you hope your career takes you?
I am a controls engineer for the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS2) at BNL - one of the most advanced synchrotrons in the world - working on motion control and equipment protection systems. I hope this career will allow me to continue to collaborate with many facilities across DOE and around the world.

Think of a time you experienced success during your academic or professional career. What did this success look like?
One of my successful moments was improving the motion systems for devices in the accelerator at NSLS2. This allowed me to gain confidence and mastery of the machine's motion components no matter how small or large they may be.

Think of a time you experienced failure during your academic or professional career. How did you feel at the time? How did you deal with the failure and work past it?
One time I failed an important exam in college and barely passed the class. It made me feel I was not meant to learn computer science or worth contributing to the field. Soon after, I realized life has a balance and where there is a will, there is a way. I tried taking the class again, and scored higher the second time. Now, I write code for a world class research facility and work with many programmers on different levels.

Did you make any important personal connections during your internship?
Family is the most important thing to me. I feel the Office of Educational Programs and some colleagues at BNL supported me in ways a family would.

What are your values? How do express your values through your academic or professional career?
I value respect, kindness, and learning. I feel that BNL fosters an environment for these and other values, which allows me to collaborate and share with staff across different programs.