Online Panel Discussion

How to Make Teams Tick

Series: Strategies for Working Remotely

Many teams have been working remotely for several months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, teams were largely co-located and comfortable that way – they just seemed to tick. Now that teams have become fully virtual and can no longer rely on productivity practices driven by being face-to-face, how have they managed change? What personal challenges have they faced, and how are they bringing back into balance team dynamics, and individual well-being? What are they learning about themselves and each other that has been unexpected? In the fifth installment of this IDEAS-ECP panel discussion series, we bring together members of successful software teams to speak candidly about being disrupted by change and bringing their teams back into balance.



Panelist Bios

Todd Coffey is the chief Scrum Master for Sierra Mechanics and works with the Scrum Masters for all 10 Scrum/Agile teams in Sierra at Sandia National Laboratories. He has a background in applied mathematics and has been involved in Sierra as a code developer and various Scrum Master roles for almost a decade. Todd has taken some classes at the school of Hard Knocks in meeting facilitation as a means toward effective collaboration across larger groups. He plans to continue learning through his mistakes.

Justin Lamb is a member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in the Scientific Applications and User Support Department. He works closely with scientific software developers working on the Sierra code suite. He helps enable high performing agile software development as the Scrum Master for the Sierra Thermal Fluid Team, and he assists the Sierra user community in a technical user support role. Aside from this, he has worked with the Sandia HPC PRO Team enabling scientific applications to run more effectively on Sandia’s HPC clusters.

Navamita Ray has been a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2018. Her background is in applied mathematics and she specializes in developing numerical methods for scientific and high performance computing. She joined the Portage team in 2017 as a Post Doc and continues to develop code for the team. Her current interests include development of advection-based remapping strategies and their testing in Portage. Aside from Portage, she also works on developing mesh data structures in advanced runtimes which target the heterogenous architectures for exascale computing.

Ryan Shaw began working at Sandia National Laboratories in 2012 and has provided technical support to the Sierra suite of multiphysics simulation codes. Ryan volunteered to be a scrum master in 2014 when the previous one left the group, but he didn’t really recognize the value of a scrum master until 2017 after working with two other teams and realizing that solving people problems was just as enjoyable for him as solving engineering problems. Ryan currently serves as scrum master for two teams and works to influence Sandia with his expertise and enthusiasm in helping others more effectively deliver product.

Tyler Shelton is a developer for the Sierra Development Operations (DevOps) team, as well as Scrum Master for the Sierra Next Generation Programming (NGP) team. He started work with the DevOps team in 2015 as an intern where he has continued to assist in the growth of development tools for running on High Performance Computers. He recently became a Scrum Master for the NGP team to help improve group collaboration, process efficiencies, and the overall health of the team.

Daniel Shevitz was trained in Physics and Mechanical Engineering, but over the years has worked in control theory, system identification, finance, CFD, risk analysis, and other fields. The only common element in all these endeavors has been a heavy reliance on computers and programming. After having spent most of his career working as a sole developer on small projects, he has in the last three years needed to learn modern workflows on multi-developer teams. Learning collaborative software development late in his career will hopefully allow him to provide some different insights on working remotely.

Salomé Rodriguez-Thorson joined SNL in mid-2019 as a Scrum Master for 2 Sierra Scrum/Agile teams. She also consults with Sandia’s Agile Community of Practice and the Corporate PMO’s Agile Center of Excellence to empower teams to realize exceptional agility in the national interest. Salomé has 15+ years of expertise in driving workforce adoption of enterprise deployments for IT software initiatives and in designing and delivering technical and soft-skills training programs in the energy and banking sectors. She holds a BA in Economics & Political Science from Yale University and an M.S. in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco.

Jan Velechovsky visited Los Alamos National Laboratory as a summer student in 2011. He returned as a research scientist in numerical methods for hydrodynamics in 2015. In the meantime, he finished his Ph.D. under dual supervision of the University of Bordeaux and of the Czech Technical University in Prague, which often required working remotely. Jan was exposed to agile framework for software development when he joined the Portage team in 2017. Since March, Jan has been working from home with an intermittent help from his two-year-old daughter.

Moderator Bios

Angela Herring is a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She specializes in leading multi-disciplinary, Agile research teams. Currently, she leads two research software teams. One team develops the remap software, Portage ( as well as an interface reconstruction library, Tangram ( The other team, Lynx, focuses on applications of code to code linking. Angela received a M.S. in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from U.C. Davis in 2005 and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Mississippi State University in 2003.

Elaine Raybourn is a social scientist in the Statistics and Human Systems Group (Applied Cognitive Science) at Sandia National Laboratories. Her research focuses on virtual teams, software developer productivity, and transmedia learning. She has worked remotely for a combined total of 14 years while at Sandia National Laboratories: from the UK as a guest researcher at British Telecom; Germany (Fraunhofer FIT) and France (INRIA) as a Fellow of the European Research Consortium in Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), and most recently from Orlando, Florida as Sandia’s Institutional PI for the IDEAS-ECP productivity project. She leads the panel series Strategies for Working Remotely.