January 7, 2021

Chris Lundell never imagined that through his accounting background, he would help serve the Lab’s scientific mission. In the early days of the pandemic, leadership, research, and operations teams came together to craft workable plans to bring employees safely back to work. At the center of that planning is Lundell, the Project Director for Laboratory Transition on the Operations Senior Leadership team. In this role, he leads the Lab’s transition efforts from curtailed operations to the return to work pilot program.

Chris spent 15 years at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory before coming to Berkeley Lab 13 years ago. In that time, he’s grown to love the Lab’s mission and accomplishments. He gets goosebumps when he recognizes lessons he learned about in school are Berkeley Lab discoveries. An avid cyclist and gardener, Chris enjoys getting out for long bike rides and staying in for movie marathons with his wife.

How did you land in the role of leading the Lab’s efforts for operating during a pandemic?

Between Livermore and Berkeley, I have over 27 years of experience. I’ve done a variety of different jobs and seen operations from a lot of different angles, and you build knowledge through the years. Management asked me to act as a deputy under Gil (Murdock Gilchriese), and as the pandemic response developed, I was asked to take a lead role in transition planning.

What would you say are the key turning points in the Lab’s pandemic response this year?

There are so many unseen contributors behind the scenes. Hundreds of employees have worked hard to build our COVID-19 safety culture!. In April, we projected maximum telework until September of last year. Now we can expect that to continue through September 2021. By May, we had set up COVID-19 controls. Many people worked so hard to get the pilot program, safety protocols, and communications completed and approved. From the beginning we have had Mike Witherell’s leadership. He leads the Lab in his calm and reassuring way and shows how much he cares for the safety of each worker.

The updates from you on the COVID calls are terrific. How have you used your past experience in this transition role?

In this transition, I’ve worked with many people in challenging circumstances, providing services, understanding the culture and the people. The Lab operates with distributed authority, and I looked at impacts across divisions and areas. I have a deep understanding of the sensitivities and developed strong relationships. I had to be accountable to the scientific and operational divisions about the changes we were making. I tried hard to understand what it means to serve the sciences.