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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 employees 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 these stories 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

Francesca DeMello is a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), in the Computation Directorate’s Applications, Simulations and Quality Division.
Women @ Energy: Francesca DeMello

"The key to STEM engagement is exposure. It’s all about the spark that happens when you learn something new that you can’t stop thinking about; it all seems possible when the face you see doing it, looks like yours."

Robyne Teslich is the Information Technology (IT) Services Program Leader for the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Women @ Energy: Robyne Teshlich

"I work in a place that has the fastest supercomputers, one of the most powerful lasers, and contributes to the safety and security of our nation. I work in information technology, which is a fundamental part of everyone’s job and is changing constantly. I love the challenge, the technology, and the people."

Deanna Willis is a communications specialist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Deanna Willis

"Children are inherently inquisitive. Read to them. Explore with them. Make science relatable and exciting with hands-on projects and outings. I don’t know the answers to half the things my kids ask me, so we research and learn together."

Dr. Chandrika Kamath is a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Chandrika Kamath

"My mother shared with me her love of mathematics and inspired me to see the beauty in numbers and patterns. I found the logic of science appealing and my father, though not in STEM, encouraged me to follow my older siblings into engineering, even though this was a rare choice for girls in India at that time."

Kimberly Cupps is the Livermore Computing Division Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.
Women @ Energy: Kimberly Cupps

"I have always had an innate interest in solving problems and that was cultivated from a young age with chemistry sets, puzzles and interesting dinner table conversations. Math and Computer Science, the two fields I pursued, present challenging problems to be understood and solved."

Elizabeth R. Cantwell (Betsy) is Director for Economic Development (Acting) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Dr. Cantwell spearheads the Laboratory’s progressive strategy to accelerate innovation and enhance national economic competitiveness.
Women @ Energy: Elizabeth Cantwell

"Engineering is always looking for interested girls! I recommend that you find a way to stay engaged and good at math. Math is key to every field of engineering. This might mean going beyond merely attending your classes and doing your homework to finding on-line resources, getting tutoring or building a support group of people at school that all help each other with math."

Jeene Villanueva is a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She has over 15 years of experience as a developer and recently became the group leader of the Computational Engineering Group.
Women @ Energy: Jeene Villanueva

"It is exciting to be able to help decision makers gain insight into challenging problems by developing and providing tools they need."

Kathryn Mohror is a computer scientist on the Scalability Team at the Center for Applied Scientific Computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Kathryn Mohror

"Creating positive role models goes a long way. Movies and TV shows that portray women as strong and technically gifted help girls realize they have choices in their career paths."

Rebecca Springmeyer serves as Deputy Division Leader for Livermore Computing and Principal Investigator for the Advanced Simulation and Computing Computational Systems and Software Environment.
Women @ Energy: Rebecca Springmeyer

"I think a good way to encourage greater diversity in STEM is to invite a more diverse set of students at all ages to visit labs and technical companies and then hire them into intern positions when they are still in high school. This can provide a pipeline of more diverse students and it can give young women and other underrepresented groups experience in STEM and motivation to continue with their science education and pursue careers in STEM."

Lila Chase is a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Lila Chase

"Parents have a primary role in opening up possibilities for their children and in equally encouraging them. I am grateful that my mom did not discriminate which of her children could pursue a higher education. We also need stronger role models in education. Laboratory scientists have long participated in educational efforts to re-energize high school teachers in the sciences."

Dr. Alston is the Director of the Environment, Safety, and Health Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Frances Alston

"It is important to expose young girls to role models that can serve, inspire, and encourage them to cultivate their interest in science and engineering. In addition, formal mentoring programs could be established to provide that one-on-one counseling and feedback relationship that is critical to understanding key concepts."

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 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."