‘In-N-Out’ of big science appeals to Lab intern


In an obscure corner of the Lab behind the Superblock lies the office of Matthew Weis, a returning summer intern.

This summer, in addition to the knowledge he gained at the Lab one year ago, Weis comes equipped with a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan.

Weis is a Michigan native from the village of Stevensville. Though from the Midwest, Weis chose LLNL over Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., due to the scale and type of work that LLNL offered.

“The projects they have there are huge, and I wanted to work on something smaller but still remain in touch with big science,” Weis explained.

As he did in the summer of 2009, Weis is working on a section of an astrophysics code that code allows scientists to create a specific scenario in outer space and see how matter interacts within that scenario.

Weis is modeling neutrino transport within the context of the code.

“Most of the energy of a core collapse supernova explosion is contained in neutrinos, nearly massless weakly interacting particles…It’s the entire gravitational potential energy from a collapsing star,” Weis explained.

During his time in California, Weis discovered In-N-Out Burger. He and Peter Robinson, a fellow intern with whom he shares an office, both frequent the restaurant. Unsolicited, they went into great detail about the “secret menu” In-N-Out boasts. Weis does indeed have interests outside of the Lab and In-N-Out.

“I like to go running, hiking, that kind of thing,” he said.

Weis recently went on a trip to Yosemite with a number of coworkers and also enjoys spending time at the Alehouse.

When asked whether he would work at a national laboratory again, Weis answered, “I certainly would.”

Upon reflection, Weis expanded upon his eagerness to work at a national lab. He feels that labs, more than industry, provide an atmosphere conducive to learning.

In the fall, Weis will return to the University of Michigan to pursue his Ph.D.

He'll be using the Michigan Accelerator for Inductive Z-Pinch Experiments, or MAIZE. Like NIF, the goal of the MAIZE at the University of Michigan is to create fusion. Michigan’s project uses its Linear Transformer Driver to explore a different type of inertial confinement fusion. In the fall, Weis will be studying magnetized target fusion, which is a cross between inertial and magnetic confinement fusion. He also will be researching the applications of plasmas and pulsed power.