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Women @ Energy: Faranak Nekoogar

July 11, 2014 - 4:34pm


Faranak Nekoogar, Ph.D. is the lead researcher on Ultra-wideband Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Faranak Nekoogar, Ph.D. is the lead researcher on Ultra-wideband Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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Faranak Nekoogar, Ph.D. is the lead researcher on Ultra-wideband Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Her areas of research include wireless communications and radio frequency identification (RFID) for hostile environment, as well as radar systems for target detection and underground imaging.

 Dr. Nekoogar has over 20 years of experience in wireless research, product/business development, and management combined with Chip design skills. She holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from UC Davis and has authored of 6 technical books, and 21 patents/records of inventions in the area of wireless technology.

Faranak has been at LLNL for the past 11 years, and prior to LLNL, she had many years of experience in design and verification of electronics microchips in various companies in Silicon Valley, CA including: Nasa Ames Research Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Amphion Semiconductor, and Intrinsix Corp. with consulting roles at companies such as Lucent Technologies, Philips Semiconductor, S3 Corporation, IBM (Mylex), Qualcomm Corp (Snaptrack).

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

As a child, I had the opportunity to be exposed to both mathematics and music by my father and two older brothers.  My interest in music theory, allowed me to appreciate mathematical abstractions and this in turn lead to pursuing a college degree in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in signal processing and eventually getting a Ph.D. in this field. Throughout my college education, I was simultanously working in the industry solving real problems in science and technology which made my academic studies more meaningful and motivating.  Joining Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 11 years ago gave me the opportunity to further expand my area of research for national security applications.

2) What excites you about your work?

I have a passion for working on technical challenges that can solve real world problems. I seek out these challenges in my work, and by solving them, I see the rewards that my work brings. I strongly believe that technical success requires, knowledge, courage and determination. Technical success nowadays also requires strong entrepreneurial leadership to bring many people to work together in solving problems where there are no previous solutions. For example, my recent novel solutions in ultra-wideband systems and RF tags have resulted in technologies that are proving to be useful in a variety of national security applications for Nuclear Safeguards, Arms Control, and Nuclear Emergency Response.

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

We need to encourage girls, women, and other underrepresented groups to become leaders in science and technology, as leadership develops strong motivation for success. Technical leaders need to be independent thinkers and doers, and we must encourage young women to be ambitious and not get discouraged by minor setbacks that might arise from a male dominated field of engineering. Overcoming hurdles, both technical and cultural, can be an enjoyable and enriching experience for women in STEM.

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

It is important to find a scientific or engineering area that excites you, and then work very hard to become as knowledgeable as you can in that field, and remain focused on specific solutions that can be used in a real world applications.

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

In my free time I enjoy family activities such entertaining friends, as well as swimming and playing piano with my 8 year old son.  I also enjoy reading, writing, and learning different languages.