J’Tia Taylor currently works as a Technical Nonproliferation Specialist in the National Security Department at Argonne National Laboratory assessing proliferation concerns associated with nuclear technology to support the interpretation and creation of United States policy.
J’Tia Taylor currently works as a Technical Nonproliferation Specialist in the National Security Department at Argonne National Laboratory assessing proliferation concerns associated with nuclear technology to support the interpretation and creation of United States policy. Her undergraduate degree with a major in Industrial Engineering was conferred in 2002 from the Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Her Masters and Doctoral degrees conferred in 2005 and 2010 respectively are in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Taylor hails from Miami, Florida and has a vested interest in community service with an emphasis on helping young adults achieve their educational goals.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
My STEM skills were nurtured very early by my parents and during my education by multiple mentors. My mother, an accountant by trade, often gave me math problems to keep me busy as a child. These included giving me our speed and distance to our destination on car trips and making me calculate our time of arrival, in response to my question “Are we there yet?”.
I was exposed to the nuclear field in particular through a summer experience with the U.S. Navy and was really amazed with the intricacies of the technology and its impact on society. Nuclear power has dual purposes and needs controls to ensure peaceful uses. I wanted to be the person who used technical and softer skills (like interacting with people from diverse backgrounds) to ensure that happens.
2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
My intelligent colleagues, the emerging technologies I am exposed, and the diversity of my experiences excite me the most about my work. I work with people who amaze me regularly as they can turn an idea into an initiative. I am exposed to new technologies that have the potential to change how our society operates. Additionally, the diversity of experiences I encounter varies from office research to travel to various countries, such as Russia, and to collaboration with international nuclear scientists. I am always excited about what I may encounter.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
Exposure and engagement! A lot of women, girls, and other underrepresented groups do not understand what STEM entails. STEM is all around you from the food you eat (food scientists) to the roads you drive on (civil engineers). Also, engagement will help them to understand that STEM is not some abstract field that only “other” people work in. The STEM field includes women and people from diverse backgrounds and only benefits from adding different perspectives.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
I always give three tips to young people looking to work in STEM fields. Master the basics of math and science because these will be your building blocks for a STEM career. Get involved. There are so many good programs (including science fairs, summer programs and internships, and team activities (Rube Goldberg, robot teams, etc.) that will help you to develop your skills and discover your interests. Finally, major in a STEM field in college. Doing so is one of the best decisions you can make. The job outlook is great and you can virtually go into any field with a STEM degree.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I enjoy watching movies and reading, especially fantasy and science fiction. I always say that before it became reality, every big idea was science fiction! I really enjoy traveling and dancing and I have a passion for fashion, shoes, and makeup.
I also spend a lot of time volunteering with young people interested in STEM fields by judging science fairs on the behalf of the American Nuclear Society and engaging in public speaking.