You are here

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

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."

Attending a conference in the Russian Arctic, Meredydd Evans of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory visited Russian gas production facilities in the Arctic in Western Siberia.
Women @ Energy: Meredydd Evans

"Mentoring is important. I volunteer in several capacities to help underrepresented high school students conduct environmental science projects through a program called EnvironMentors... In my own career, I had several science teachers encourage me in very helpful ways. It can be very empowering to learn from someone else in a nurturing setting, where it is okay to ask questions and observe new things." Read more from Meredydd on her profile here.

Dr. Valerie Reed is the Acting Biomass Program Manager at the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Women @ Energy: Valerie Reed

"Making careers more exciting and reachable for girls is something that we can all be doing through humanizing these careers. Anyone can enter STEM fields, not only Nobel laureates. By teaching STEM in high school, we can expose students to that fact, and get students face time with people in the field, working internships, and learning more about these fields."

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."