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Women @ Energy

Women @ Energy

Our new feature, Women @ Energy, showcases a few of our talented and dedicated employees here who are helping change the world, ensuring America’s security and prosperity through transformative science and technology solutions. View profiles of women across the country, sharing what inspired them to work in STEM, what excites them about their work at the Energy Department, sharing ideas for getting more underrepresented groups engaged in STEM, offering tips, and more. 

We hope that the stories of these, and many more, women in STEM can inspire others as they think about the future. Only 24% of the STEM workforce is female, an alarming gap as over 51% of the workforce overall is female. 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 annemarie.horowitz@hq.doe.gov

Peg Folta is responsible for a 100-person workforce with an expertise in applying the latest computing technologies to plan, configure, control and analyze a broad variety of experiments at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the largest and most energetic laser in the world.
Women @ Energy: Peg Folta

"The combination of spending a lifetime doing what I excelled at in a variety of domains with a potential of having an impact on a grand scale was thrilling. It is what kept me in STEM and brought me to the national lab."

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.
Women @ Energy: Marissa Newhall

"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."

Kelly Lively has worked at Idaho National Laboratory for more than 20 years, and in that time has worn many professional hats, including personnel security, quality assurance inspector, nondestructive testing and project management.
Women @ Energy: Kelly Lively

"Dive in. Don’t be afraid to do the work and ask questions. Initially, I was intimidated going into college, having been out for so long; but I encourage others to go back, it is never too late to learn things.When in the workforce, you have to ask questions and engage. You have to take that risk—to follow the engineering work in the field and be okay with making mistakes."

Novella Bridges has worked at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory since 2000. Novella is a project manager in PNNL's Applied Statistics and Computational Modeling group.
Women @ Energy: Novella Bridges

"We should make the connections to other aspects of their lives. Most, importantly we should demystify the fact that STEM fields are hard and only for "boys". This needs to be taught often and repeatedly to young girls throughout elementary, middle school and high school. So, when they get to college they will be ready and excited about STEM and not afraid of it."

Dr. Athena S. Sefat is a scientist at the Materials Sciences and Technology Division of the Physical Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Women @ Energy: Athena Sefat

"In order to be the best in one's field, one needs to work for the best and also be in the company of the brightest. It is my privilege to be part of the workforce at the Energy Department. Its excellent scientific resources and organization are key to its outstanding position."

Melissa Teague is a nuclear material scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, working on a technique to analyze high burn-up fuels.
Women @ Energy: Melissa Teague

"Don't be afraid to try things, ask for the internship or job even if you don't think you can get it. I started working for a professor my first semester of college. I didn't think I had a chance of him hiring me but I still asked. Internships and working experience are so important to help you figure out what you want to do and gain real-world experience of all the classes you take. It can really help steer you towards what you want to do."

Dr. Allison Campbell is the Director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory. She is nationally recognized for her contributions toward materials development through her research in the field of biomaterials.
Women @ Energy: Allison Campbell

"Women in science have come far but we have a long way to go. Women in particular can feel torn between having a work life and having a family life. Women need to understand it’s not an either/or. It’s an ‘and.’ It’s not easy to find that balance, and the balance shifts frequently, but it’s important to me that all of our staff feel like they can have that balance."

Sandra Begay-Campbell is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories where she leads Sandia’s technical efforts to assist Native American tribes with their renewable energy developments.
Women @ Energy: Sandra Begay-Campbell

"It’s exciting, as a Native American woman engineer, to provide technical assistance to tribes who are interested in renewable energy projects... I draw from my cultural heritage to explain options to Native people and I serve as a cultural interpreter to my team members."

On left, Dr. Yvonne Commodore, Principal of Lincoln Middle-High School in McClellanville, South Carolina, stands with Cynthia Anderson as part of the annual  Principal for Day event with the South Carolina Education Foundation.
Women @ Energy: Cynthia Anderson

"When I speak to students, I tell them that they really do need to pay attention to math and science in school. We have a STEM literacy problem in this country, and science, technology, engineering and math need to be better incorporated into classes."

Dr. Heinemann is a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Senior Physicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Beate Heinemann

"It is very fascinating to find out something truly fundamental about nature, e.g. finding a new law of nature or a new fundamental particle. I was among the people discovering the Higgs boson last year and just purely the fact that we have experimentally found a particle which was theoretically assumed to be there for nearly 50 years is amazing."

Mary "Molly" Finster is an Environmental Systems Engineer within the Environmental Sciences Division at Argonne National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Mary "Molly" Finster

"I like to tell young women that you will be good at anything you enjoy, but you sometimes have to try a lot of things to learn what you enjoy! So, it is very important to get yourself out there and learn what interests you. In addition to taking a variety of classes in school, try to seek out and participate in some of the many wonderful STEM events and programs offered around the country that are specifically designed to excite and motivate young women. You never know until you try!"

Laural Briggs is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, where she has worked since 1977.
Women @ Energy: Laural Briggs

"Nuclear power has been a workhorse of the electric power industry for 50 years and is a key element in supplying the world’s future electricity needs, so having the opportunity to work at Argonne, as part of a strong team of nuclear engineering researchers, on development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactor designs lets me contribute to the well-being of future generations while addressing technically interesting and challenging issues."

Anne Ruffing works at Sandia National Laboratories as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff in the Department of Bioenergy and Defense Technologies. Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories.
Women @ Energy: Anne Ruffing

"Very few people can say that their work may help to ‘save the world’ one day. Renewable energy may do just that, providing the world with a sustainable future and helping to mitigate the anthropogenic impact on the Earth. I think that’s pretty cool."

Women @ Energy
Women @ Energy: Diane Chinn

"Changing the perception of what an engineer or scientist looks like is an important step toward making STEM education widespread for girls. We need to highlight role models for underrepresented groups and show the fun, interesting work that they do. Hearing how role models achieved success has always been an inspiration for me."

Karen Schuchardt is the user platform architect at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on an open-source platform that will allow scientists to easily set up, execute, manage, and analyze simulations and associated data for subsurface studies.
Women @ Energy: Karen Schuchardt

"What excites me most about my work is that there is always an opportunity to learn new things. Computing is such a dynamic field that affects all aspects of science, and I have the opportunity to learn a little bit about science domains while contributing to solving the enormous computing challenges. There is always another challenge just around the corner."

Dr. Margaret Romine (right), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, mentors postdoctoral fellows and early career scientists on her projects, encouraging them to explore new directions and learn new techniques.
Women @ Energy: Margaret Romine

"Tomorrow’s research problems require multi-disciplinary teams to tackle them, and, thus, you benefit from collaborating with scientists with skills and interests that complement your own. Don’t limit yourself to seeking connections with people that you work directly with, but engage in discussions with scientists from other groups or institutions."

Dr. Katrina Waters, a senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, uses proteomic and microarray data analysis, data integration and biomarker discovery to understand risks, such as the impact of energy-technology-related nanoparticles.
Women @ Energy: Katrina Waters

"I would encourage people to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. If you only study one discipline, especially in biology, you will lack the vision to relate across the science domains. Big data and biotechnology are growing so much that multidisciplinary training is a must."

Dr. Xin Sun's scientific advances have led to notable weight savings in the U.S. automotive industry. Xin works at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Xin Sun

"Throughout my childhood, my parents never implied to me that as a girl, I could not achieve something I wanted. Engineering was an easy choice for me. I never had a second thought. Truly, it never occurred to me to do anything else!"

As the director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Dr. Charlette Geffen leads scientists in comprehending the atmospheric processes that drive regional and global earth systems.
Women @ Energy: Charlette Geffen

"A problem solver by nature, I discovered that a science and engineering background opened the door to addressing a wide variety of technical and societal challenges. In today’s environment, that basic STEM understanding is more important than ever, for a whole variety of fields."

Shortly after arriving at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Dr. Kathy Hibbard purchased a young thoroughbred mare. Here, she is pictured at a birthday party thrown by her stable buddies.
Women @ Energy: Kathy Hibbard

"It is so important to follow your heart and your brain. Don’t be afraid if you think something is hard, like math. Try and take it one step at a time so you’re not overwhelmed. If you’ve ever looked up at the sky and wondered why it’s blue, why the grass is green, then you are well on your way!"

Lisa Durham is a Principal Environmental Engineer with over 20 years of experience in soil and groundwater investigations, data analysis and interpretation, and environmental modeling in support of characterization, remediation, and closure at hazardous waste sites.
Women @ Energy: Lisa Durham

"Be flexible, take on challenges, listen, stay open-minded, ask questions, and never pass up the opportunity to learn something new. Follow your interests and learn from your mistakes. Effective communication is essential in a STEM career so don’t overlook taking writing and speech classes."

Dr. Virginia H. Dale is a Corporate Fellow in the Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Women @ Energy: Virginia Dale

"When taking a required science class at the university, I heard the words “mathematical ecology” and became entranced. I walked out of that classroom and asked a math professor what this field was. That question resulted in me being the only student in a class called “mathematical ecology.” Using mathematical tools to understand ecological relationships was immediately appealing and eventually became the focus of my career."

Joy Bonaguro manages Information Technology policy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and works closely with both the National Lab CIO Council and the DOE Information Management Advisory Group to help develop Department of Energy information policy.
Women @ Energy: Joy Bonaguro

"Take the harder classes, and think of them as problem solving. Don't expect to be great, expect to work hard and enjoy the learning process. I would encourage young women to take a programming course at Udacity or others and learn about how to structure problem solving."

J’Tia Taylor currently works as a Technical Nonproliferation Specialist in the National Security Department at Argonne National Laboratory assessing proliferation concerns associated with nuclear technology to support the interpretation and creation of United States policy.
Women @ Energy: J'Tia Taylor

"A lot of women, girls, and other underrepresented groups do not understand what STEM entails. STEM is all around you from the food you eat (food scientists) to the roads you drive on (civil engineers). Also, engagement will help them to understand that STEM is not some abstract field that only 'other' people work in. The STEM field includes women and people from diverse backgrounds and only benefits from adding different perspectives."

Dr. Ruby Leung, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, builds accurate, intricate computer models that allow researchers and stakeholders to understand the interplay between Earth, water, clouds, and atmosphere.
Women @ Energy: Ruby Leung

"I developed a keen interest in understanding nature and how the scientific method worked when I was in high school. I particularly enjoyed physics and math, and liked the challenge of solving complex scientific problems with simple solutions. Unraveling how nature works and knowing that by doing so, we also can discover some solutions to overcoming technological challenges and societal problems are what inspired me to work in STEM."