A researcher stands in front of a bank of windows on a bright, sunny day

Sandian named Scientist of the Year

September 11, 2023 8:28 am Published by

I was the only farm worker who had a calculus book in his car,” Sal Rodriguez joked when I asked him about his upbringing.

But it was no joke. The son of immigrants, Sal grew up in the tiny town of Calexico, California and worked in the fields to put himself through college. “My dad instilled in us a work ethic and my mom always believed in education. They wanted us to get good grades and that is what I did.”

But Sal went far beyond getting good grades. He has earned three master’s degrees and two doctorates, has 240 publications to his name along with multiple patents and copyrights, and has won countless accolades in his nearly 30-year Sandia career.

HENAAC Scientist of the Year

Great Minds in STEM, which recognizes America’s top engineers and scientists from the Hispanic community, will honor Sal as Scientist of the Year at its annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference. It’s a first for a Sandian. “I am out of my skin here. I’m thinking this can’t be real, you know? I am still pinching myself,” Sal said.

While Sandia initially nominated Sal for the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award, the committee elevated his nomination to Scientist of the Year. Scientist of the Year and Engineer of the Year awards are the highest of the conference’s honors, reserved for individuals who model excellence and leadership, making profound contributions to industries, STEM fields, communities and the nation.

In 2012, Sandia radar systems manager Steven P. Castillo received the conference’s inaugural Engineer of the Year Award. The Scientist of the Year category was also added that year.

Read the complete Lab News story.

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