Mara Schindelholz is a principal R&D staff member at Sandia National Laboratories—and one of our accomplished 2024 Women in Tech Awards Honorees! Mara’s accomplishments are a testament to her relentless pursuit of groundbreaking advancements, her commitment to fostering collaboration, and her passion for empowering underrepresented groups in the field of science and technology.

Mara’s career at Sandia National Laboratories spans over 15 years, during which she has led multi-disciplinary teams in developing innovative technologies for assessing and predicting the state-of-health of engineered systems. Her expertise particularly shines in the creation of novel environmental sensors, where she has made significant strides in advancing sensor technology. Mara’s groundbreaking work includes the development and translation of a novel nanoporous materials-based sensor, resulting in multiple papers, intellectual property, and collaborations with key partners such as the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC).

“I am passionate about partnering with the tech transfer center at Sandia to help champion the resources they can provide, as well as others within the NM innovation ecosystem, to increase the translation of technologies out of the laboratories and into the NM community,” says Mara of her impact at Sandia Labs.

In early 2023, Mara embarked on an off-site assignment at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program director, marking the first off-site assignment by a Sandia employee at the NSF since 2011. As part of the newly created Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) directorate, Mara plays a pivotal role in funding the nation’s newest deep technology start-ups. Her impact extends beyond financial support, as she provides guidance and mentorship to maximize the success of these burgeoning companies.

Mara’s many career achievements include:

  • Lab-Wide Team ERA for leading the closure of a longstanding failure investigation critical to the safety architecture for two weapon systems.
  • Mission Innovator Award, 2022, for achievements in sensor R&D.
  • Defense Programs Award of Excellence for Tech Transfer, awarded by the NNSA.
  • First-ever commercialization award from the DOE Energy I-Corps Program.

Throughout her career, Mara has been dedicated to translating innovative technologies out of the laboratory and into products that benefit communities and markets nationally. Her leadership in promoting technology transfer and business development within Sandia has led to numerous accolades, including Mission Innovator Awards and recognition from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Mara’s efforts have also extended to mentoring younger female R&D staff and advocating for diversity and inclusion in technology, demonstrated through her outreach efforts aimed at increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM. From attending conferences focused on advancing indigenous people in STEM to championing proposals for conferences addressing clean energy transition within Tribal Nations, Mara actively advocates for inclusivity and equal opportunities in the tech industry.

In her personal life, Mara strives to show people in her immediate community multiple pathways toward gender equity in technology:

“I have two young children (4 and 6). I am proud to be setting an example for them of all that women in technology can accomplish.”

Mara is an amazing leader in tech that is paving the way for future generations of women! We are so excited to honor her accomplishments at the 16th NM Annual Women in Tech Awards. Join us on March 13th for the Awards Luncheon at Hotel Albuquerque. Register today!