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Women @ Energy: Corrie Clark

July 9, 2014 - 4:14pm

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Environmental Systems Engineer Corrie Clark is a team lead in Argonne’s Environmental Science Division where she analyzes the impacts of energy technologies on the environment and looks for ways to reduce those impacts.

Environmental Systems Engineer Corrie Clark is a team lead in Argonne’s Environmental Science Division where she analyzes the impacts of energy technologies on the environment and looks for ways to reduce those impacts.

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Environmental Systems Engineer Corrie Clark is a team lead in Argonne’s Environmental Science Division where she analyzes the impacts of energy technologies on the environment and looks for ways to reduce those impacts. This includes impacts to the air and land, but the majority of her work focuses on water. Water is required in nearly every stage of energy production, from well drilling and resource extraction, to the operation of power plants. Using water more efficiently saves operators money and enables the water to be used for other purposes such as drinking, irrigating crops, or for recreational activities and aquatic life.

Clark studied chemical engineering at the University of Virginia, and after completing an internship program in science and technology policy, she learned that good policy requires good science. Her interest in the science-policy interface led her to pursue graduate degrees in environmental engineering and natural resources to better understand the interactions between built and natural environments.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

My parents taught me to appreciate the wonders of the natural environment, but it wasn’t until I worked on various home repair projects with my next door neighbor, a retired industrial engineer, that I learned about the amazing capabilities of the engineered environment. As I was good at math, liked chemistry, and wanted a challenge, I decided to study chemical engineering.

2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

I like the interdisciplinary nature of the work that I do at Argonne, the opportunity to continually learn about new technologies and new challenges, and the potential to inform energy policy.

3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

Improve efforts in outreach and mentorship. When you’re learning about the fundamentals of math and science, it’s not always easy to see how those ideas can be applied and what job opportunities are available to those who find those topics interesting. I didn’t really know what an engineer did until I went to engineering school, and there are likely to be many others who would be interested if they only knew what we do.

4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

There are many different degree options and pathways to working on energy and environmental issues: engineering, chemistry, environmental science, etc. Don't let a negative comment or remark deter you from your goal. You'll meet a lot of people throughout your career and the majority of them will be supportive. Too often, students get discouraged by one person's opinion, and it's important to remember that it is just one person's opinion. Find a mentor who is supportive of your goals and keep your mind open to unexpected opportunities.

5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

I love to spend time with my family, whether we’re exploring our own city by bike or traveling to another destination. Ever the environmental engineer, when traveling, I take pictures of infrastructure for stormwater and waste management. At home, I enjoy reading and gardening. 

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