During the Deepwater Horizon crisis in 2010, when 100 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico, Francesca D'Arcangelo was hard at work. The Laboratory had been called in to advise the Coast Guard on the best airborne systems for sensing oil, and, as a systems analyst, Francesca was leading a team to rapidly assess the best technologies for the job. Thanks to this assessment, the Coast Guard had real-time information at their fingertips to help them with the cleanup effort.
Taking up these kinds of challenges is why Francesca came to the Laboratory. After years of studying black holes, culminating in a doctorate in astronomy, Francesca wished to work on problems closer to home, ones that answered the day-to-day needs of the nation. Her systems analyses have since helped the government counter unmanned aircraft, protect facilities, detect chemical threats, and improve maritime security. What she's enjoyed most about these assignments, though, is how they've broadened her horizons. "Since I started here, I have worked on problems in physics, chemistry, biology, sensing, prototyping, communications, computing – you name it!" she says. Working here is an ongoing experience in learning, Francesca says, which is a message she brings to students at her alma mater, Wellesley College. As part of the recruiting team, she encourages young women to bring their talents to the Laboratory.