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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

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. "

Vanessa Tolosa is an engineer in the Materials Engineering Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Women @ Energy: Vanessa Tolosa

"Take any opportunity to get experience outside your field. If you are a material scientist, intern for a lab in molecular biology, organic chemistry, or electrical engineering. Find out who would benefit the most from your research and spend time with the people or industry you hope to affect."

Teresa Mathews is an environmental scientist in the Ecological Assessment Science Team (EAST) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Women @ Energy: Teresa Mathews

"As an environmental scientist, I love getting my hands wet, literally. Every day is different—some days I get to go out and collect water or critters in a stream, and other days I am analyzing samples or doing an experiment in the lab. Not only is my work fun, but I also feel that it is important." Read more from Teresa on her profile here.

Carolyn Albiston is a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Women @ Energy: Carolyn Albiston

"Promote yourself and your accomplishments. Ask someone specific to be your mentor, male or female. You can have more than one for different purposes. Most people are flattered to be asked."

Félicie Albert is an experimental plasma physicist at the National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Félicie Albert

"... I do something unique, and that every day I learn something new and different. I do experiments using intense lasers, including the National Ignition Facility, the biggest laser in the world. I work with a lot of talented people on challenging problems. When you work really hard on designing an experiment, the excitement when you get your first data and see that it works is an amazing feeling."

Jennie Jorgenson has been working at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO since 2012. Here she's on campus, playing music with colleagues. Photo credit Dennis Schroeder
Women @ Energy: Jennie Jorgenson

"If you enjoy tackling challenging problems and asking big questions, STEM might be a good fit. It’s essential to make sure that your chosen field of work can keep you interested – passion can help make a great scientist."

Jessica Osuna is a post-doc in the Atmospheric, Earth, and Energy Division of Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
Women @ Energy: Jessica Osuna

"I feel that it is so very important for girls and under-represented groups to understand that they already have skills that are valuable in the STEM fields! Perseverance, teamwork, and curiosity are just as important as skills in math and problem solving. You don't need to become someone different to be valuable and successful in science! "

Dr. Pan is a staff scientist in the Computational & Mathematical Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Wenxiao Pan

"I am always motivated by the DOE mission applications that lead to practical use of the methods we developed to real-world problems."

Women @ Energy
Women @ Energy: Wendy Shaw

"Look at the interest that shows like CSI and Breaking Bad have generated—forensic science programs have skyrocketed at universities around the country. Even though the TV shows over-simplify these fields, they bring it to a level that makes young people see how much could be done with it and how powerful it is….and FUN."

Shannon Goodwin is a senior research scientist in the Nuclear Materials Analysis Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Shannon Goodwin

"It is genuinely rewarding to know that as scientists, we are potentially helping educate future generations of scientists by either increasing an educator’s comfort level with science or by spreading our enthusiasm for science on to their students."

Sarah Widder is an engineer in the Energy Policy & Economics Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She focuses on sustainable design, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas management work.
Women @ Energy: Sarah Widder

"I love problem solving. Engineering was the right fit for me because it appeals to the rational, logical part of my brain, but allows me to apply it in a way that makes a difference and improves the world around me."

Women @ Energy: Vassiliki-Alexandra (Vanda) Glezakou

"It is not easy, but then nothing that matters really is. Of course there will be challenges and heartbreak, but stick with it, and it will be rewarding in the end. Embrace the ambiguity; you will be stronger for it. Use it to fuel your goals and ambitions and you will contribute to a better future for the next generation."

Nora Wang is a senior research engineer in the Electricity Infrastructure and Buildings Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Nora Wang

"So often, there’s this image of someone locked away in a laboratory all day. We need to help women and girls understand the scope of work that’s out there and the many different options. They can’t make the right decisions without adequate knowledge."

Laura Riihimaki is an atmospheric scientist in the Climate Physics group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Laura Riihimaki

"Beware of the glass ceiling that’s in your own head. Social pressure can make you think you shouldn’t be there, but you can choose to ignore that voice in your own mind. Focus on what you want to do rather than what you think you’re able to do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, being willing to say you don’t know something in order to learn it may actually be the smartest thing you can do."

Dr. Jennifer Comstock is currently the interim associate director of the Atmospheric Chemistry & Meteorology group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Jennifer Comstock

"We also need to encourage girls to think outside the box, ask questions, and not be afraid to raise their hands in class – too often peer pressure prevents them from trying to get involved. We need to provide them with experience and exposure to women scientists across all types of scientific disciplines so they understand the range of options."