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Two INL researchers selected as Women of the Year

Science & Technology

The following is a news release and photos from Idaho National Laboratory. Johanna Oxstrand and Jagoda “Jaga” Urban-Klaehn

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Business Review has selected Idaho National Laboratory researchers Jagoda “Jaga” Urban-Klaehn and Johanna Oxstrand as 2022 Women of the Year.

Urban-Klaehn and Oxstrand are the latest INL women who have received the award, which annually honors 50 Idaho women for excellence in leadership, professional accomplishments, mentorship and community service. They will be honored at a gala banquet Sept. 22 at Boise Centre East.

Johanna Oxstrand

A native of Sweden, Oxstrand is a senior human factors scientist who has worked at INL since 2010. Her research includes dynamic work management and instructions, control room modernization and human-automation collaboration. She also leads research on digital architectures and data analytics.

Oxstrand earned her master’s in software engineering at Chalmers Institute of Technology, in Goteborg, Sweden, and first worked at Sweden’s Ringhals nuclear power plant. She first came to the United States in 2009 as a visiting human performance scientist at Sandia National Laboratories.

“I’m incredibly honored to be in a position where I get to experience the real-life impact of my research and development efforts, which is quite uncommon for researchers in the field of human factors and psychology,” she said. “I’m also grateful to have been awarded a patent and to have several asserted copyrights.”

In 2021, Oxstrand mentored a team of INL interns in a project aimed at transitioning the lab’s documentation procedures from paper to digital. “I make an intentional effort to offer nonjudgmental support as a mentor and I’m constantly looking for opportunities to elevate my peers, both professionally and personally,” she said. “I always welcome and strive for a diversity of perspectives in everything I do.”

She currently chairs the Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society. To share her love for the outdoors and trail running, she helped create an all-abilities running group for women. “I’m proud to say that four years later, the running group has become a beloved and essential part of the larger Idaho Falls Trail Runners community,” she said.

Jagoda “Jaga” Urban-Klaehn

Urban-Klaehn, who was born in Poland, is a research scientist in INL’s Energy and Environmental Science & Technology directorate, managing the Positron Annihilation Laboratory. She has been active in INL’s NASA space mission work, helping develop materials for the radioisotope thermoelectric generator that powers the Perseverance Rover on Mars. At the Advanced Test Reactor, she helped in the production of cobalt-60, an isotope used in nuclear medicine.

Urban-Klaehn earned her doctorate in physics from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, where her studies in positron annihilation methods as a tool for investigating mineral porosity were supported by Chevron.

She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Idaho Accelerator Center in Pocatello, then worked as a principal investigator for Positron Systems Co., examining stress in critical materials for the aviation industry and the U.S. Department of Defense.

In her community, Urban-Klaehn is a spiritual care volunteer at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and active in education causes, most recently collecting petition signatures for the Idaho Education Act. She serves on the board of the Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society.

She is proud of her Polish heritage and has served as an editor of Polish American Journal and a host of Polish culture websites, posting more than 500 articles. “Besides my work, I have always had a curiosity for people from other parts of the world,” she said. “My mother tongue is Polish, but I also speak Russian and English and, while traveling, I also acquired a working knowledge of German as well as Spanish and French. My love for languages is driven by a curiosity to know people from around the world on a different level than just as a tourist.”

Before joining INL, Urban-Klaehn taught advanced mathematics in local high schools and at Eastern Idaho Technical College (now College of Eastern Idaho), College of Western Idaho and College of Southern Idaho. She believes that although life is a struggle, people need to be persistent, treat everybody with respect and dignity, and be kind.

“We need to follow our dreams and find our passion; listen to people, but also share our opinions, find our voice, and learn from our mistakes to move forward,” she said.

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