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Women @ Energy


The Women@Energy series showcases profiles and videos of inspirational women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers at the Department of Energy.

The profiles and videos highlight what inspired these women to work in STEM, what they do day-to-day in their jobs, their ideas for engaging others in STEM, tips, and more. Soon, the Women@Energy series will also include sample classroom lessons to engage middle school girls with the Women@Energy series.

We hope the stories and videos inspire women to think about their possible future in STEM. We can and should share our own STEM stories to help engage others and offer our voices on how our STEM careers have impacted us. Questions? Comments? Want to request a speaker? Get in touch by emailing

Jennifer Raaf is an associate scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended Virginia Tech as an undergrad, and the University of Cincinnati for graduate studies, earning a master's and a doctorate.
Women @ Energy: Jennifer Raaf

"One of my undergraduate physics professors actually said to me once, 'Maybe you should switch your major to English.' I was devastated. I hadn’t done well on a recent test, which is maybe what prompted his comment, but in retrospect I now think he should have found a better way to discuss my performance on that test, and subsequently my options. In the end I ignored him, but it definitely made me unsure of myself and certainly affected my performance on later tests in that class and others –- I had horrible test-taking anxiety throughout college and graduate school. I wish I hadn’t had that trouble, but I’m glad that I continued on despite it."

Regina Rameika is a scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, earning a bachelor's degree and doctorate.
Women @ Energy: Regina Rameika

"I have been very lucky to have mentors throughout my career, and the environment at Fermilab has been very supportive of the work-life balance, so even during the time that I was raising a family, it was quite easy to pursue my career."

Ingrid Fang is an engineering analyst at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended Northern Illinois University, where she earned a master of science degree in mechanical engineering.
Women @ Energy: Ingrid Fang

"It was hard at the beginning. Most of my professors thought I walked into the wrong classroom. It was my rigorous ballet training that made me realize that I can do anything as long as I work hard on it. I knew that if I could train myself to stand en pointe in my ballet shoes, there was nothing I could not do."

Christine Ader is a mechanical engineer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended Illinois Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor's degree.
Women @ Energy: Christine Ader

"I think it is always challenging to pursue a career in STEM because the field is challenging in and of itself. Of course, when one adds the added dimension of other people, it can increase the challenge, but one has to find supportive and positive people to surround themselves with. This will make all the difference in the world, regardless of the career field. And sometimes one may find the most supportive people in the oddest places, but regardless, those will be the ones applauding you when you accomplish your goals."

Cindy Joe works as a particle accelerator operator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Reed College.
Women @ Energy: Cindy Joe

"Women face a lot of challenges in the STEM field, ones which our male colleagues don’t always understand—which we ourselves don’t always understand, and which we sometimes blame ourselves over. But at the same time that I want to push for radical changes and improvements, and take concrete steps to work toward them (don’t get me wrong, there are proven biases, systemic as well as personal, and we must act on them), I also try to focus on what we have in common. In the end, we all have the same goals; are all working on different facets of the same problems."

Brianna Thorpe is a student researcher working with Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory. She worked with Arizona State University’s Meson Physics Group to build the triplet polarimeter currently used in one of the Hall D experiments.
Women @ Energy: Brianna Thorpe

"There’s always something new to explore, another question to be answered, and another way to go about answering that question. Since I began doing research for Jefferson Lab, I’ve never felt like I’m working some 9-5 job. Instead I feel like I’m part of this big adventure full of infinite possibilities."

Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was nominated by President Obama to be Deputy Secretary of Energy on July 8, 2014; was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 18, 2014; and was sworn into office on October 10, 2014.
Women @ Energy: Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

"Our agenda is so important to the future of our country – and our leadership of the world. The people of this Department enable America to stay on the cutting edge of science and technology, develop clean energy solutions to power our nation, generate jobs, combat climate change, increase our energy infrastructure resilience, ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of our nuclear weapons, and counter proliferation. In sum, what excites me most are the opportunities we have every day to make game-changing contributions to the safety, security, and quality of life of the American people."

Chen Liao is an electrolyte scientist in the Chemical Sciences & Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory, working on lithium-ion batteries and other types of energy storage systems.
Women @ Energy: Chen Liao

"Networking with other scientists and learning about innovations taking place in my field is certainly inspirational. I enjoy the freedom that scientists have to come up with new ideas and test those ideas and see where the exploration of these ideas will lead."

Carolyn Phillips is a staff scientist at Argonne National Laboratory in the Mathematics & Computer Science division.
Women @ Energy: Carolyn Phillips

"My last, more personal advice, is to be resilient and adaptable. That is, expect that many things you try won’t work. That is normal, and it is not the universe trying to tell you to abandon trying altogether. Also, as you learn more and are exposed to more, be willing to change your direction to pursue something that is more exciting to you and has more opportunities. It is quite possible that the job you will eventually have and love doesn’t even exist right now."

Brenda Teaster is an Energy Analyst/Energy Engineer at Argonne National Laboratory. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee, and her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Women @ Energy: Brenda Teaster

"You will learn so many things about how the world works and meet many interesting, intelligent, and talented people. Engineers can be some of the most ethical, witty, and fun people you could ever want to meet. Engineering also provides a great background for almost any other career choice if you decide to branch out."

Amanda Joyce, a Cybersecurity Analyst at Argonne National Laboratory, provides cybersecurity expertise to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help protect data stored on computers and processes enabled by computers.
Women @ Energy: Amanda Joyce

"I hope my work makes a difference by helping people to better understand the current and potential future states of information security and how to make cyber systems more secure. If I can get just one person to have an “aha” moment, then I feel fulfillment."

Dr. Alexandra Dubini is a research scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden CO.
Women @ Energy: Alexandra Dubini

"Do not give up and look for mentors that will help you and support you throughout your career. I was lucky to always have great mentors around me from my studies up to my present career and that’s what allowed me to be where I am today."

Titilayo Ogunyale joined the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability in April 2012 where she advises and supports the Assistant Secretary on strategic communications, policy analysis, and stakeholder engagement.
Women @ Energy: Titilayo Ogunyale

"Don’t rule yourself out as not having a place in the STEM field. There’s opportunity for everyone and a great value in a diversity of disciplines, perspective and skill sets. Find a STEM area that interests you and look for ways to leverage your skills to be impactful."

Dr. Frazier is a physicist in the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), where she manages scientific and technical efforts undertaken to ensure that the United States maintains a credible National nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.
Women @ Energy: Njema Frazier

"Hobby one: CHANGING THE WORLD. Not really kidding. STEM education is an obsession for me, as are mentoring, outreach, speaking, disseminating information about opportunities in STEM, and starting STEM programs/initiatives. Basically, anything I can do to support efforts to bring parity to STEM fields for people of color, women, and 1st generation students: I’ll do."

Crystal McDonald is a policy and program advisor in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the US Department of Energy.
Women @ Energy: Crystal McDonald

"Kids tend to think of each course in isolation – pass the test and get a good grade. If we help them to think of STEM classes as building blocks to create this body of knowledge that is actually useful, then they can see possibilities never imagined. It’s important for them to see the relevance of a STEM education as we seek to make a difference in our communities."

Gina Hendricks is the Hot Cell Engineering manager at the Naval Reactors Facility (part of Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation) in Idaho.
Women @ Energy: Gina Hendricks

"Work within the Department of Energy is unique, complex, and challenging. Research and development work defines the cutting edge of technology. My first job within the DOE was designing thermal systems for a nuclear-powered spacecraft. Today, I examine the properties of irradiated materials. The DOE provides opportunities to be at the forefront of nuclear technology, the likes of which are virtually non-existent elsewhere."

Dr. Cynthia Jenks is the Assistant Director for Scientific Planning and the Division Director of Chemical and Biological Science at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
Women @ Energy: Cynthia Jenks

Scientific research is like putting together a puzzle. You get all these little pieces of data, and you have to put them together in a way where all the pieces fit and tell a story about what is happening. When one piece doesn’t fit, you know there’s something wrong in your thinking and you have to go back. You have to re-decide what the puzzle is supposed to look like. But when you have it—when you put the last piece in and it all fits—there’s this wonderful “a-ha” moment. Everything comes together, and everything makes sense. That is a great feeling.

Dr. Paula Gant is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.
Women @ Energy: Paula Gant

"Energy is a fundamental building block for quality of life, and the research and planning happening here at DOE is what ensures that building block can be relied upon for generations to come. The Department is full of bright minds and dedicated individuals who contribute to that prospect -- and I see our work as making a real difference, every day."

Women @ Energy: Sharon Langman

"I like to design things from scratch, ensuring I meet the customer's needs and requirements to help them do their work more efficiently. It is rewarding when an application can change a process for the better, make information more transparent, or enable growth and opportunities in research or business."

Dr. Mary Bishai is a Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY. She received her Ph.D. in High Energy Physics from Purdue University in 1999 and a BA from University of Colorado, Boulder in 1991.
Women @ Energy: Mary Bishai

"In the U.S., in my professional life I have learnt that when you demand more of people and set a high standard, people will rise to the challenge. Too much choice in high school as to what you need to graduate implies that some classes are for some people and not others. The huge disparities in local school districts also breeds an imbalance in access to STEM education. I have mentored and met high school students from some of Long Island’s wealthiest public school districts and I see no problem of representation of women in STEM fields in these districts."

Simerjeet Gill of the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory works on materials in extreme environments, including supercritical CO2, which is an initiative in the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.
Women @ Energy: Simerjeet Gill

"The possibilities and freedom to pursue ideas to solve problems is very exciting. Working in the Department of Energy not only provides me with access to state-of-the-art facilities like the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) and future NSLS-II, I also get to work with world-class scientists who are leaders in their fields. When I developed a reaction cell to watch corrosion as it happens at a synchrotron facility, I got to work with beamline scientists, design engineers, corrosion experts, and a safety team. Teaming up with these experts for an experiment was truly a rewarding experience. In my current projects, I am collaborating with outstanding scientists from Brookhaven Lab and other institutions to develop materials for nuclear energy and, so far, the journey has been great."

Jessica earned a master's degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico. She is currently a post-doc at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory. Photo credit: Michael Hoch.
Women @ Energy: Jessica Metcalfe

"As individuals—men and women alike—we can challenge ourselves to stop and think about what assumptions we make about a person based on how they look. As teachers, we can ask, "What encouragement do I give to my students? What language do I use? Is it different for different groups of students?" We can learn to speak about math and science as something fun, not scary. As a professional in a STEM field, I have the opportunity to mentor students. There are plenty of talented young women and people of color from a diverse range of backgrounds who deserve the opportunity for a STEM professional to see their potential and invest time to support their growth and success, and I want to be a part of that movement."

Lynne Ecker works on materials in radiation environments at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) and NSLS-II at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Lynne Ecker

"The Department of Energy internship programs like the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program are a great way to learn more about fields that interest you and science careers. Be open to trying different research areas – the skills that you learn are easily translatable, broaden your expertise and make you a better, more thorough scientist."

Nathalie Bouet is an associate scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Nathalie Bouet

"I’m really excited by the range of research going on across the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE includes so many researchers in different fields that are all part of one entity, which gives us the opportunity to collaborate across scientific areas and laboratories. That fosters creativity for our own research. Having an institution like DOE that values and funds basic research is fantastic. Basic research isn't basic—it’s the required essential foundation for applied research and technological developments the general public doesn't often witness."

Ms. Wendy Baca initiated a second career with Los Alamos National Laboratory in June 2012, as an Executive Advisor in the Principal Associate Directorate for the Weapons Program, supporting initiatives including the NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan and Strategic Deterrence.
Women @ Energy: Wendy Baca

"Probably the most important thing I could recommend – as evidence by my personal experience - is to not be intimidated and to not be in a hurry. I was definitely overwhelmed a few times but, I never gave up and I’m really glad I didn’t. "