May 11, 2021
Heather Crawford enjoys both her work family at the 88-inch cyclotron and the turkeys and deer that hang out outside the building on the Lab’s hill site. Heather came to the Lab in 2010 as a postdoc for three years, then returned in 2015 in her current role as a staff scientist in the Nuclear Science Division. She is happy to be a part of the Lab’s open and collegial research culture. “I can go to the world’s experts on any number of subjects for advice, and they’re all happy to talk with me.”
In 2019 she received the Early Scientific Career Director’s Award. Dr. Rod Clark, who was in her research group and her initial postdoc supervisor, nominated her.
Heather encourages to think about candidates for the Director’s Award in any one of the many categories. It is a prestigious recognition of a job well done.
How does your work contribute to the Lab’s mission of bringing science solutions to the world?
My research is in what I would consider fundamental nuclear structure. I perform experiments on short-lived radionuclides to study their properties and understand the change in nuclear structure from isotope to isotope. The ultimate goal of this kind of work is a predictive model of all atomic nuclei, but we need data in exotic nuclear systems to test and refine the models that we have. Alongside this research, we also do a lot of work in detector development. I’m part of the GRETA project, developing a new gamma-ray tracking array for the experiments with rare isotopes. This type of work is really at the crossroads of fundamental and applied research, with a lot of the technologies we push forward finding uses in more applied settings.
How did receiving the Director’s Award change you or your work?
I wouldn’t say that receiving the Director’s Award changed me or my work, but I do think that it brought more attention to the work going on in the Nuclear Science Division (NSD). We’re not the largest division at the Lab, and I think that my award did bring some recognition to NSD and the ongoing projects. I had people reach out to congratulate me from across the Lab, which was very flattering. Unfortunately, my parents are in Vancouver, Canada, and couldn’t come down for the ceremony. However, I know they were proud -- they certainly understand the level of recognition that the award represents.
Why would you encourage others to nominate someone for the Director’s Award?
I think you cannot underestimate what it means for someone to be recognized by their community. It raises awareness, yes, but knowing that your colleagues felt you were deserving and went to the effort of putting together a nomination is probably the most fulfilling aspect. I think most of us, if we’re really honest, are plagued by insecurities, and nominating someone for a Director’s Award is a unique and powerful way of letting them know how much they are appreciated. Corny, but true!