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Women @ Energy: Jill Fuss

March 13, 2013 - 9:06am

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Dr. Jill Fuss is a Research Scientist in biophysics and biochemistry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working on understanding the molecular basis for cancer and aging.

Dr. Jill Fuss is a Research Scientist in biophysics and biochemistry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working on understanding the molecular basis for cancer and aging.

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Dr. Jill Fuss is a Research Scientist in biophysics and biochemistry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working on understanding the molecular basis for cancer and aging. Dr. Fuss earned a B.A. in environmental science from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her postdoctoral fellowship was performed at Berkeley Lab where she received a National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award and was named a U.S. Department of Energy Outstanding Mentor. Dr. Fuss is active in Berkeley Lab’s Women Scientist and Engineers Council, serving as the chair of the Worklife Balance subgroup, and she served as one of Berkeley Lab’s representative to the University of California Systemwide Advisory Committee on the Status of Women for over four years. 

1) What inspires you to work in STEM?

I love working at the edge of knowledge.  It’s really exciting to be the first person to clone a gene or see a protein structure.  Although I do basic science that may seem far from practical application, I am driven by knowing that the work I do today builds the foundation for future therapeutic discoveries.  I have met patients with diseases caused by mutations in the genes I work on and their stories and struggles inspire me every day.

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

I feel very privileged to work in an amazing research environment that combines world-class academic research with unique national user facilities like the Advanced Light Source.  I also like working at an institution with a rich history of discovery and team science.  I am a strong believer in Ernest Lawrence’s philosophy that scientific research is best done through teams of individuals with different fields of expertise, working together.

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

Science has an image problem. I think it is important to redefine the image of a scientist as a man working alone in the laboratory to that of a diverse team of researchers working toward a common goal that has huge societal impact.  Scientific research is actually very social—the best labs are supportive, vibrant, and creative environments that interact with researchers from around the world. When women, girls, and underrepresented groups have a chance to see research in action, they want to be a part of it. Summer research programs for students and their teachers are vital for engaging anyone in STEM fields.

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

Get in a lab and do research!  Berkeley Lab has many opportunities, both paid and volunteer, for students and teachers to do real research.

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

I love to be silly with my kids, ride my bike to work, ski, knit, and eat delicious food.

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