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Women @ Energy: Rosio Alvarez

March 15, 2013 - 10:38am

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Dr. Rosio Alvarez is the CIO at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where she serves the computational needs of scientists that carry out $.8B of sponsored research in photon, computing, environmental, energy and bio sciences.

Dr. Rosio Alvarez is the CIO at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where she serves the computational needs of scientists that carry out $.8B of sponsored research in photon, computing, environmental, energy and bio sciences.

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Dr. Rosio Alvarez is the CIO at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where she serves the computational needs of scientists that carry out $.8B of sponsored research in photon, computing, environmental, energy and bio sciences.  She oversees a division that also supports several Department of Energy user facilities including a nanoscience center, a supercomputer center, an advanced light source and a genomics institute.  Recently, Dr. Alvarez served as Senior IT Advisor to the Secretary of Energy.  In this position, she advised the Secretary on matters related to information technology and cyber security.  She assisted with strategic and tactical improvements and development of policy for a $20B Department.  Before coming to the Berkeley Lab,  Dr. Alvarez was Associate Chancellor for IT at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she served the computational needs of 30,000 users.  She has also served as faculty in the Business Schools of the University of Washington and University of Massachusetts and has published in leading academic journals in her field.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

I was an engineering student and I was in the field and kind of lost. And I probably would have exited the field had I not had a wonderful woman instructor, a grad student at the time. She was very supportive and encouraged me to stick with it.  Having her as a mentor was extremely helpful and inspiring.

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

Working for a place that is solving the biggest challenges that the world is facing is probably the most exciting and inspiring work you can do.  Here at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, we are looking at how to solve some of the biggest health, energy, and environmental challenges.  They will have a huge impact on the country and world for many, many generations to come and that makes you smile when you come to work each day.

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

This is a really complex and vexing question, and there is not one answer.  From my own experience, I think having more women and underrepresented minorities is important.  As more people enter the fields and find people who look like themselves and understand them better, this is very important.  For instance, you may have a student that says, ‘Wow, that person looks like me and they have accomplished a PhD in Engineering or Chemistry" or whatever it may be leading them to believe they can accomplish the same.  That is a really strong influence and a way in which you can engage women, girls and underrepresented individuals.  In addition, funding programs that encourage participation in learning about science, technology, engineering, and math.  It’s a huge complex effort that has to be approached from a multi-levels including, at the federal, state, and community levels.

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

I would recommend to be immersed in the content of your field, be very disciplined and applied.  Get as much education as you possibly can because no matter how much you have the next person might have just a little bit more and that can put you at a disadvantage.

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

Travel.  Good Food.  Good Wine.  

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