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Employee Spotlight: Gary Kellund

How long have you been with Sigma Science, Inc.?
I started with Sigma 21 years ago on 4/22/2002. I believe I’m currently the longest-term employee of the company!

What are some benchmark projects that you’ve led while with Sigma?
My work assignments for Sigma have focused primarily on nuclear safety analysis and the development of controls to ensure safe operation of DOE/NNSA nuclear facilities. Most of my work has supported Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site, but I’ve also had opportunities to support Sandia National Laboratories, the Nevada National Security Site, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the DOE Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM). This has been one of the great things about working for Sigma – the ability to work on diverse projects for multiple clients. It certainly makes for interesting work and keeps you on your toes. Some of my more memorable assignments have been:

  • Led the nuclear safety team at the LANL Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) Facility. During this time, several interesting new projects came to CMR that required innovative approaches to solving challenging technical issues.
  • Managed the Sigma project for DOE-EM to develop a completely new Documented Safety Analysis for the Area G transuranic waste facility at Los Alamos. The interesting aspects of this work included working with the multiple stakeholders for Area G to resolve their (often) differing opinions, while also tackling the numerous technical challenges of the project.
  • Provided senior level nuclear safety support at the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility that is currently under design. This is a very large high visibility project to establish a plutonium pit production capability from scratch at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. As such, it has plenty of moving parts that made sure I was never bored!
  • I’m currently providing senior level nuclear safety support for LANL. One of the most rewarding parts of this assignment is the opportunity to mentor several of the early-career LANL nuclear safety analysts. It’s a pleasure to help them and to watch them grow into their roles and confidently take on new responsibilities.  
How the company changed/grown since you started?
When I started at Sigma over 20 years ago, the company consisted of about half a dozen employees, all supporting LANL. We were each basically responsible for ensuring we found new or continuing work for ourselves to keep employed. Not to mention, due to our small size, we each were involved in nearly every aspect of running a business - contract management, business development, accounting, HR, leasing office space, etc. Although interesting and educational for me, these collateral duties that came with working for such a small company could sometimes create challenges when we also were supporting our clients on a full-time basis. Now that Sigma has grown so much and so successfully over the last 20+ years, I really appreciate the corporate level infrastructure and support in all these areas that allows me to focus on my client’s needs. But at the same time, Sigma still engages its technical staff like myself on business development and other initiatives that allows me to keep me involved in interesting company business.  
Do you have anything else that you’d like us to know about you?
Sigma has also been very accommodating of my time-consuming hobbies that take me away from my work but that contribute so much to achieving a healthy work/life balance. I’ve been privileged to have had the opportunity to climb many of the highest mountains all over the world in the Himalayas, Andes, Mongolia, central Asia, Africa, and North America – and have a few interesting stories to tell from these trips as well (just don’t ask me to bring up the time the Chinese army was shooting at me in Tibet – I’d prefer to forget that incident…😉).