Cutting-edge science, technology, and engineering attracted Dr. Diane Chinn to a career at a Department of Energy national laboratory. As director of the Accelerated Materials and Manufacturing Initiative at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, she leads a team of engineers and scientists in research that will accelerate the materials lifecycle from concept to manufacturing. The team performs innovative research in advanced additive manufacturing, chemistry and materials science, modeling and characterization, and predictive simulation. This fundamental research creates breakthrough solutions across a broad range of mission needs in nuclear security, energy, biotechnology, domestic security, and warfighter capabilities. Diane also serves as the Division Leader for the Materials Engineering Division of LLNL’s Engineering Directorate. She earned a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Delft Technical University, The Netherlands, master’s degrees in Engineering Management and Civil Engineering from Stanford University, and a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
Growing up with a father and uncles who were engineers, I had a good picture of what an engineer does day-to-day. Discussions on how electrical circuits work and how buildings get built seemed normal to me. I always enjoyed creating things when I was young. But the real inspiration came when I took my first solid mechanics class in college—everything made sense to me. From that point on, I was hooked on engineering and the processes of design, experiment, and analysis.
2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
As the largest supporter of government research in the U.S., DOE offers researchers the opportunity to work in areas that really matter to the future of the country. My work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has allowed me to work on a very diverse set of projects. From nuclear power plants to industrial boilers to the National Ignition Facility, the research has importance on a national scale. It’s exciting to be able to work in areas that have the kind of impact that you find at a national laboratory.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
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.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Network! Build a support structure of friends, colleagues, and mentors to help you find your way. Learn the areas where you are strong and seek out work that highlights those strengths.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I’ve played softball with a LLNL team for years. It’s been a great way to informally build my support structure and have fun at the same time. I also like to go running with my dog and backpacking with my family.