Marissa Newhall joined the Department of Energy’s Office of Public Affairs in August 2013, taking the editorial helm at Energy.gov and supporting digital strategy efforts at the Energy Department.
Marissa Newhall joined the Department of Energy’s Office of Public Affairs in August 2013, taking the editorial helm at Energy.gov and supporting digital strategy efforts at the Energy Department. Prior to coming on board, Marissa directed digital strategy and media relations at two energy-related nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C., and received a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University. In a prior life, she was a reporter and blogger at the Washington Post; in her current life, she bicycles everywhere and travels to warm, sunny places as much as possible.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
I had always considered myself more of a creative person, a writer, a photographer, a designer. That was much of my career background before coming to the Department of Energy. But technology is making the world smaller and empowering people to create and curate their own content.
I am inspired by how digital communications platforms are breaking down the wall between consumers and information providers. So, for me, on the technology side, the digital communications side, it is great to use data to understand how people are interacting with what we produce and how we can serve them better based on what we’ve learned from that data. Those are things you couldn’t do before, and technology has sped that up and made us more effective messengers for delivering the information that people need and want to consume.
2) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?
At heart I think of myself as a storyteller, and I love that I can come to work every day and think of new creative ways to tell the story of the people at the Energy Department, what they’re doing, and why it matters. And that I also get to work with a team of incredibly talented people who help bring that story to life through amazing videos, maps, infographics, and photo galleries. It’s great to be part of a team that all share that same passion and commitment.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
Well, first we really need to get rid of the stereotypes between what girls do and what boys do. Even with the types of toys that are marketed to kids. But also, not telling women, girls, and other underrepresented groups to just stick to things that their gender is stereotypically good at. It’s ok if you get a B in geometry or physics; it doesn’t mean you’re bad at math or bad at science. We need to develop individual interests, and to make them gender blind. STEM needs to be equal opportunity for anyone that is interested.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Think carefully about both the kinds of work you like to do and the types of topics that interest and motivate you. And even if the path is not clear at first, as long as you’re working on topics that really drive you to come to work every day and drive you to create and innovate, you will find your way even if it doesn’t seem clear at first.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I’m very into cycling; I ride my bike to work every day. I love to cook. And I am learning to play the ukulele.