Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Frontiers in Science Talks

This series of conversations with scientists, engineers and other experts is a public service of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows. Fellows are appointed by the Laboratory Director in recognition of sustained outstanding contributions and exceptional promise for continued professional achievement. All talks are open to the public and free of charge.

  • Susannah Briar
  • (505) 469-7835
  • Email


Frontiers in Science: A universal method for detecting disease

Our own immune system inspired a new, universal approach to diagnosing emerging infectious diseases

Thursday, Sept. 15
5:30-7 p.m.
Crossroads Bible Church
97 E Road
Los Alamos, NM

Friday, Sept. 16
5:30-7 p.m.
New Mexico Museum of Art
107 W Palace Avenue

Santa Fe, NM

Emerging infectious diseases are a major concern to national health security, as exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. To prepare against unknown threats, we need an arsenal of tools — diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines — that can be used broadly against a variety of pathogens.

Our own innate immune system can recognize the entire gamut of pathogens that inhabit the Earth — whether it has seen them before or not! Inspired by this complex and beautiful pattern recognition system, Harshini Mukundan and her colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory and elsewhere have developed a diagnostic approach that has the potential to be universally applicable for all pathogens. Mukundan will discuss this approach and other new tools in the fight against pathogens.

About the speaker

Harshini Mukundan is a program manager and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a visiting scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is also an affiliate of the New Mexico Consortium, Council for Strategic Risks, and an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico.

Mukundan holds a master’s degree in microbiology and a doctorate in biomedical sciences. After a short stint in industry, she joined Los Alamos in 2006 as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow, under the mentorship of Basil Swanson. Mukundan developed her diagnostics portfolio and capabilities during her time at Los Alamos.

Mukundan has received many honors and accolades, including the New Mexico Women in Technology Award, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows’ Prize in research, two R&D 100 Awards and others. She is a passionate mentor and STEM advocate. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mukundan was recognized as an AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador in 2019. She was one of 100 women scientists featured in a 3D exhibit at the Smithsonian in 2022.

Lectures are free. Registration not required.

The Frontiers in Science series is a public service of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows.