This week at the lab, former waitresses, bike mechanics, firefighters and corn detasselers are chiming in on a recent social media trend by sharing their first seven jobs.

Twitterers worldwide have been posting lists of their first forays into the workforce (#Firstsevenjobs) — the type of endeavors that (sadly, we think) rarely end up on a resume. So we decided to ask some of our scientists, engineers and the rest of the staff who keep the National MagLab running smoothly to think back to their youth and where their first paychecks came from.

Who knew that bartending could be great prep for a chemistry career? Or that a stint as a horse wrangler could pave the way to physics? Indeed, the path to science turns out to be as varied as the folks in the field.

For proof, just scan the below lists provided by some of our staff. Want to join the conversation? Tweet your own list (#Firstsevenjobs), and tag @nationalmaglab in your post.

Amy McKenna
MagLab job: Chemist, Ion Cyclotron Resonance Facility
First jobs: oatmeal-getter at a pancake house, waitress, cashier, bartender, titanium seller, bartender (again!), analytical chemist

Thierry Dubroca
MagLab job: Postdoctoral associate, Electron Magnetic Resonance Facility
First jobs: cowboy, corn detasseler, catering cook, shrimp factory cook, math tutor, material scientist, start-up /CEO

Tim Murphy
MagLab job: Director, DC Field Facility
First jobs: paper boy, corn detasseler, farm laborer, lawn care, toy factory employee, horse wrangler, intramural referee

Scott Bole
MagLab job: Mechanical engineer
First jobs: Bicycle mechanic, bag boy, apprentice electrician, land surveyor, stevedore, maintenance man, mechanical engineer

Jon Betts
MagLab job: Head, Pulsed Field Facility program
First jobs: dishwasher, DJ, cryogenics engineer

Roxanne Hughes
MagLab job: Director, Center for Integrating Research & Learning
First jobs: cashier, day care teacher, waitress, marine biology technician, high school science teacher, high school girls cross country and track and field coach, teaching assistant

Renee Luallen
MagLab job: Coordinator, DC Field Facility
First jobs: video store clerk, hair salon receptionist/cashier/manager, math tutor, graduate assistant, project facilitator/business development analyst, product/business development manager, enrollment systems team leader

Sean Coyne
MagLab job: Facilities manager
First jobs: lawn mower, baby sitter, zoo animal caretaker, bike mechanic, trail builder, farm hand, horse trainer

Charles "Lamar" English
MagLab job: Research engineer
First jobs: scuba instructor, police dispatcher, papermaker, construction surveyor, power plant operator, dive light manufacturer

Scott Hannahs
MagLab job: Physicist and associate lab director
First jobs: public works laborer, state park maintenance worker, firefighter programmer, physicist

Eric Palm
MagLab job: Deputy lab director
First jobs: oil field worker, oiler and welder’s helper, seismic testing technician, physics and physical sciences teacher, teaching and research assistant, physics postdoc, research scientist

Carlos Villa
MagLab job: Outreach coordinator
First jobs: bag boy, sandwich artist, copy consultant, planetarium educator, substitute teacher

Kristen Coyne
MagLab job: Web content director
First jobs: Jewelry factory laborer, governess in Switzerland, college tour guide, grocery runner, public library silence enforcer, English teacher, banana tree killer

Image Gallery

See some MagLab staffers in their old jobs in the image gallery below. Click on the image for a better view and more details.

This week at the lab, the staff bids farewell to a scientist who joined the lab even before there was a building to work in.

William Denis Markiewicz, who goes by his middle name, has worked a quarter century in the MagLab’s Magnet Science & Technology department, a career book-ended by two flagship magnets that he designed.

Markiewicz was recruited by the brand new lab to oversee design and construction of the world-record 900 MHz Ultra-Wide Bore NMR spectrometer magnet.

Markiewicz vividly remembers those heady first years.

"I thought that I would be part of something brand new, and part of all of the excitement and high expectations that come with the start of something new," he said. "And I was not disappointed."

Now 11 years old, the famed 900 MHz magnet enabled nearly 70 publications on health-related discoveries in its first decade — and is still going strong.

Markiewicz departs the lab just as another magnet he designed, the 32 tesla all-superconducting magnet, is in its final stages of testing. Projected to smash magnet records and enable exciting new science in the years ahead, it uses novel high-temperature superconductors that generate stronger magnetic fields than conventional low-temperature superconductors.

The 32 tesla magnet program, said Markiewicz, "is an example of a very large and capable team at the MagLab working together to produce something that is very unique. There is no other facility now that is capable of doing this."

Among other highlights of his career, Markiewicz received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers‘ Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Large Scale Applications of Superconductivity in 2015, and Florida State University's Distinguished Scholar Award in 2008.


Text by Kristen Coyne. Photo by Stephen Bilenky.

Deep in their beautiful lattices, crystals hold secrets about the future of technology and science. Ryan Baumbach aims to find them.

During the sport's biggest month of the year, MagLab staffers talk about how biking enhances their life — and their science.

Time off from the lab can recharge batteries, inspire new insights and give the brain a break — even when a little science sneaks in.

This week at the lab, physicist Luis Balicas and several members of his research group are presenting their latest results and learning about the recent work of colleagues in one of the most exciting areas of condensed matter science, two-dimensional systems.

At Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts, the scientists are taking part in a conference organized by The Gordon Research Conferences, a group that runs hundreds of such meetings every year to give researchers the chance to talk across disciplines about the latest results in a relaxed, isolated environment like the Berkshires.

Luis Balicas research groupLuis Balicas (second from left) and members of his research group at the conference.

The dozens of scientists and engineers in attendance are sharing their findings on two-dimensional systems like graphene, a form of carbon just one atom thick that has attracted a lot of attention from researchers hoping to develop electronic and other applications. But graphene isn't the only two-dimensional material out there, and groups like Balicas's are busy studying other two-dimensional materials featuring intriguing physical properties.

Although Balicas will give a talk this week, that's not his only reason for attending. He has brought along several graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to introduce them to experts in the field where they hope to one day make their marks.

"You have the opportunity to ask them questions, get them to know you," said Balicas, a member of the lab's Condensed Matter Science research group. "It's a networking thing, and simultaneously an opportunity to convey what you are doing."

The weeklong conference is also a very social event, featuring poster sessions and dinners, coffee breaks and discussions both formal and informal. Young scientists who have labored in relative obscurity on esoteric topics finally find an audience that appreciates what they do and can offer valuable feedback.

"It's a way for them to feel integrated in a community," said Balicas, "and to feel like they can contact senior and well-respected academics at prestigious institutions."


Text by Kristen Coyne. Photo courtesy of Luis Balicas.

A free kick that went down in soccer history netted another important goal for Wale Akinfaderin: Propelling him toward a career in physics.

Hired in 2015 as chief scientist, this eminent physicist brings a dynamic array of talents to the MagLab.

Physicist Huan-Xiang Zhou receives grant as part of the Maximizing Investigators' Research Award (MIRA).

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