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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

Dawn Shaughnessy has recently been appointed group leader for the newly created Experimental Nuclear and Radiochemistry Group, in the Chemical Sciences Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Dawn Shaughnessy

"I enjoy being challenged every day and working in STEM means there is always a new issue or problem to solve and I always feel satisfied that my work is helping to understand the world around us. Science is an area where I truly feel proud about the work I do every day."

Dr. Marianne Sowa has been very active in mentoring students through different programs at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Marianne Sowa

"Be flexible. Research is never a direct line from A to B. Get the broadest undergraduate experience you can, as you will be very focused on a particular problem in your research career."

Dr. Julia Laskin's career has taken her from Leningrad, USSR, to Washington State via Israel. She earned her master's degree from Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and worked at the University of Delaware on the East Coast until coming to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State.
Women @ Energy: Julia Laskin

"I did not know what it was like to be a scientist, but, somehow from the bottom of my heart, I was always interested in science. I just was not sure I was good enough for it. To my great surprise, when I started my Ph.D. studies, I discovered scientists, although very smart, were just normal people." Read more from Julia on her profile here.

Growing up in the Ukraine, the daughter of secondary physics and math teachers, Dr. Alla Zelenyuk enjoyed math and science at a young age.
Women @ Energy: Alla Zelenyuk

"It is essential to have an open mind and think independently. Find problems that interest you and that you feel you have the potential to make a unique and independent contribution." Read more from Alla on her profile here.

At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Dr. Karin Rodland oversees the work for the National Institutes of Health and manages 91 people in the Biological Separations & Mass Spectrometry Group.
Women @ Energy: Karin Rodland

"Remember when you were a child, and could ask all those really fundamental questions: Why is the sky blue? Where do clouds come from? Why does grass turn green in the spring? Being a scientist is like being a child for life. I get to ask fundamental questions every day, and I get to prod and probe and play in the lab until I get the answers." Read more from Karin on her profile here.

Dr. Kirsten Laurin-Kovitz (left) has nearly twenty years of experience in nuclear reactor analysis, nuclear material safeguards and nuclear nonproliferation.
Women @ Energy: Kirsten Laurin-Kovitz

"The U.S. needs to grow its technical workforce - including engineers - and women represent an untapped resource that can help the U.S. remain competitive. I believe these types of programs provide an opportunity for girls to learn about engineering first-hand from women engineers that can provide positive role models. If even a fraction of these girls choose engineering careers we are impacting the future." Read more from Kirsten on her profile here.

Hai Ah Nam being interviewed on how the Titan supercomputer will benefit research in low-energy nuclear physics.  The full video can be seen at
Women @ Energy: Hai Ah Nam

"I caught the bug to want to know more than what was presented in textbooks. I wanted to be part of the quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe, which meant following the arduous path of physics. It was…and still is such a challenge working in STEM, but, it’s never boring. I get to question our basic understanding of the world where the answers are not in the back of the book." Read more from Hai Ah on her profile here.

Maria Power is the Principal Engineer for Accelerator Control Systems at Argonne National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Maria Power

"It really begins at the middle school age. Both inside the classroom and out, we need to expose children to all kinds of career possibilities and encourage them to work hard (and ask for help when needed) in their classes. Classrooms need to do less testing so they have more time to educate and inspire." Read more from Maria on her profile here.

Emily Zvolanek is a senior GIS analyst in the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, where she has worked since 2010.
Women @ Energy: Emily Zvolanek

"In GIS, work experience is critically important. There is so much knowledge gained through the trial and error of finding or creating data and devising analyses that is not learned through the designed scenarios and scrubbed data offered in textbooks. I encourage anyone interested in GIS to search for internships, volunteer work, and summer research programs; anything that would garner real-world experience." Read more from Emily on her profile here.

Melanie Moses DeBusk is leading ORNL’s project on membrane-based water recovery from engine exhaust for both potable water and improved engine efficiency applications.
Women @ Energy: Melanie Moses DeBusk

"Kids seemed to be forced to choose career paths early and early these days. I think it is important in the early years like elementary and middle school as well as high school to not just explain the basic building blocks of science but to show examples they can relate to in their daily lives."

Jennifer Steeb is an Assistant Chemist in the National Security theme within the Chemical Science and Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Jennifer Steeb

"Working at Argonne National Laboratory as a staff scientist provides me the opportunity to apply my knowledge in chemistry to solve challenging problems in the interest of meeting the needs of the Department of Energy’s national security mission. It is very gratifying to work in teams that advance the U.S. capability to perform nuclear forensics, knowing that the end result contributes to the ultimate goal of keeping our nation safe." Read more from Jennifer on her profile here.

Marie Rinkoski Spangler is an electricity analyst working at the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Women @ Energy: Marie Rinkoski Spangler

"As you are taking STEM courses, realize that you are learning more than just the topic material. You’re learning how to define and solve problems, and how to use mathematical tools. These abilities will make you particularly desirable as an employee—whether or not you end up working in the field you are studying now." Read more from Marie on her profile here.

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.

Julie G. Ezold works in the Nuclear Material Processing Group, Nuclear Security & Isotope Technology  Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Julie Ezold

"I always tell high schoolers and college students to find something that excites you; for you will spend more of your waking hours at your job then you will outside of it. It should be everyone’s goal to find a career such that when you wake up and the morning you are looking forward to going into to work." Read more from Julie on her profile here.

Pamela Sydelko is the Deputy Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Engineering & Systems Analysis at Argonne National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Pamela Sydelko

"I also think giving working scientists and engineers the time and opportunity to get out and be involved in schools and science fairs would be very influential. It can’t be just teachers that spark and inspire, but in collaboration with career scientists and engineers from diverse fields, a student can get a better picture of how fulfilling these careers can be." Read more from Pamela on her profile here.

Dr. Kathleen Carrado Gregar is the Manager of User & Outreach Programs at the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Kathleen Carrado Gregar

"I firmly believe that what I do, what my colleagues do, and what Argonne National Laboratory does, contributes in an invaluable and permanent way to the national good. Our basic sciences and engineering discoveries are often eventually translated into advances for our citizens in energy security, national security, information technology, and health." Read more from Kathleen on her profile here.

Michelle Buchanan is the Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Women @ Energy: Michelle Buchanan

"All children are curious, and capturing and nurturing this curiosity as they go through school in math and science courses is very important. Often the connection between what we learn in classrooms and how it applies in the real world is not clear to students. Providing rich, meaningful experiences—examples in the classroom, field trips or hand-­‐on research-­‐-­‐can make math and science lessons more relevant to student’s lives and thus make a huge difference in keeping students interested in STEM." Read more from Michelle on her profile here.

Carrie Milton is an operations research analyst for the Office of Electricity, Coal, Nuclear, and Renewables Analysis at the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Women @ Energy: Carrie Milton

"I love working in my field, studying the underlying economic drivers of electricity markets and translating that into energy models. The electric power industry has seen tremendous changes in the past decade, and working on a team whose job it is to incorporate this information into models that forecast supply and demand curves is challenging and exciting." Read more from Carrie on her profile here.

Deanna Pickel is on the Research Staff of the Macromolecular Nanomaterials Group, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences Division.
Women @ Energy: Deanna Pickel

"The most important advice I have for young women interested in any field of STEM is to find an internship, whether at a National Laboratory, academia or industry. The best way to learn about a field is to work with experts in that field." Read more from Deanna on her profile here.

Giselle Sandi received a Ph.D. in electrochemistry and joined Argonne National Laboratory as a postdoctoral appointee in 1994.
Women @ Energy: Giselle Sandi

"What excites me the most about my work at Argonne is the people: world class scientists and engineers working together to gain fundamental knowledge and pushing forward new applied technologies." Read more from Giselle on her profile here.

Kerstin Kleese van Dam is an associate division director of the Computational Science and Mathematics Division and leads the Scientific Data Management Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Kerstin Kleese van Dam

"Working in with different science domains means that there is never a dull moment. My technical abilities and creativity are consistently challenged by their evolving requirements, pushing to create new solutions that take us to the next level." Read more from Kerstin on her profile here.

Erin Iski received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Tulsa in 2005 and then went on to Tufts University for a Ph.D. in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Charles Sykes.
Women @ Energy: Erin Iski

"I think first and foremost, we need to expose more women and girls to the prospect of careers in STEM at a young age. The earlier these groups realize that they can have a part in these fields, the more likely they are to ultimately chose to go to college in a STEM related path. Additionally, they need to see and meet older and younger female scientists. Getting the chance to see other females in these positions solidifies these career goals as possible." Read more from Erin on her profile here.

As an agronomist (University of Milan, Italy, 1981), Ms. Cristina Negri leads the phytotechnologies R&D activities at Argonne as an Argonomist.Environmental Engineer at the Process Technology Research Energy Systems Division.
Women @ Energy: Cristina Negri

"Role models, role models and more role models. They will change the stereotypes that surround women’s perceived interests and what is “appropriate” for a woman – there should be more role models readily available that offer young people (women and other underrepresented groups) an opportunity to see themselves in STEM professions." Read more from Cristina on her profile here.

Shawna Waugh is a mathematical statistician for the Office of Petroleum and Biofuels Statistics at the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Women @ Energy: Shawna Waugh

"I started my career solving puzzles, an activity I enjoyed early in life! I enjoy the creative process (brainstorming, identifying alternative approaches and outcomes, establishing boundaries for a problem, and utilizing analytic and systems techniques useful in approaching problems, professional and personal."

Rebecca Abergel, Ph.D. is a Staff Scientist in the Chemical Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Rebecca Abergel

"We need to change the vision that people have of scientists. Too often, when we ask younger children if they know a famous scientist, they refer to Albert Einstein, and envision an older man with a crazy hairstyle. Taking science classes in school should be considered as "cool and desirable" as being on the football team, and we can only change this perception by continuously disseminating and explaining what we can achieve with science and who is behind it." Read more about Rebecca on her profile here.