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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

Jan Berry works at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a technical responsible officer and team leader for the Tokamak Cooling Water System of the U.S. ITER project. She attended the University of Florida and University of Tennessee and has a bachelor of science degree and master of science degree in chemical engineering.
Women @ Energy: Jan Berry

"Widespread pollution was a national topic, and I was intrigued that as a chemical engineer I could work in the industry that was causing the problems. I decided to return to college and try to become an engineer. I knew I would never become one if I didn’t even try."

Nina Balke is part of the research and development staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She attended the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, earning a Ph.D.
Women @ Energy: Nina Balke

"Not enough people actually know what STEM is. You don’t need to be a genius to pursue it and have fun. We have to teach kids that it’s OK to pursue a field with few women/underrepresented groups and build confidence that everyone can do it."

Brittany Kamai is an astrophysicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She has attended Vanderbilt University and is a Ph.D candidate. Previously, she attended Fisk University for her master's degree in physics and the University of Hawaii for her bachelor's degree in physics.
Women @ Energy: Brittany Kamai

"I usually have to step away for a little while. Sometimes that means going out for a walk, talking to people outside of my field, talking to friends and family. I have an incredibly supportive network of friends, family, and mentors. They remind me that what I do is awesome and that I am capable of doing it."

Pushpalatha (Pushpa) C. Bhat is a scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended Central College, Bangalore University, earning a Ph.D.
Women @ Energy: Pushpalatha C. Bhat

"My job is a small part of the grand human endeavor that strives for a deep understanding of the mysteries of the universe, its nature and its workings. My basic science research allows me to contribute to the store of human knowledge and understanding, which one day could yield fantastic unexpected benefits to society. It also spurs the development of new technologies and data analysis methods. In addition, my job enables me to train scientifically aware individuals, inspire young people to care enough about nature, the world around us, to learn more about it."

Marcela Carena is a Scientist III (senior scientist) at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and a professor of physics at the University of Chicago. She attended Instituto Tecnologico Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Instituto Balseiro, earning a diploma in physics; as well as San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, and the University of Hamburg, Germany, where she earned a Ph.D in high energy physics.
Women @ Energy: Marcela Carena

"When I was in college I felt the environment was sometimes too rough for me. We were only a few women among a vast majority of male students, all living in a dorm, in a beautiful but rather isolated location with little opportunities to pursue extracurricular activities. The academic level was outstanding and I had to work hard to keep good grades, but I had to work even harder to fit in. In retrospective that experience prepared me well, not only academically but for life in general."

Mandy Rominsky is an applications physicist / Fermilab Test Beam Facility coordinator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in physics, and the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a Ph.D in physics.
Women @ Energy: Mandy Rominsky

"I work at the Fermilab Test Beam Facility. This is a place for new particle detectors to be developed or for experiments to test and calibrate current technologies. It’s important because it helps the field as a whole. High-energy physics is important because we are broadening the base of knowledge that mankind has to work with. And ultimately that will help future generations live better lives."

Rhonda Merchut is an engineer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). She attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in architecture.
Women @ Energy: Rhonda Merchut

"I believe that most people do their best work when provided with the proper environment. My job is to identify these environments and follow through to ensure each is built to meet the people’s needs in the most cost-effective and sustainable manner."

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."