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.
Jeene Villanueva is a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). She has over 15 years of experience as a developer and recently became the group leader of the Computational Engineering Group. She is an advocate for diversity and has been the President of the Lawrence Livermore Lab Women’s Association (LLLWA) and Chairperson of the Asian Pacific American Council (APAC). Jeene’s software development career path was sparked by a childhood fascination with computer software. In addition to playing classic elementary school computer games such as “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” and “Oregon Trail,” Jeene recalls an assignment that required her to write a program in BASIC code which was fun.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science then came to work at LLNL. As a software developer and project lead for the Enterprise Modeling Data Applications Project, Jeene and her team develop enterprise modeling tools that help Department of Energy (DOE) decision makers gain insight into the challenging problems that face the United States nuclear weapons complex. Enterprise modeling tools enable collaboration between DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Headquarters and the eight sites that make up the nuclear weapons complex, allowing analysts and managers to access the data they need quickly and efficiently.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
When I was in the 4th grade, my teacher selected me as the only 4th grader to join the 5th and 6th grade math and science team. We were given fun projects to work on and we were able to use creativity to solve problems. I felt honored to be the youngest on the team, and I was excited to build my own rocket that I was able to launch.
2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
It is exciting to be able to help decision makers gain insight into challenging problems by developing and providing tools they need.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
Introduce science, technology, engineering and math in a fun way at a young age. Participate in math and science conferences such as Expanding Your Horizons and be a role model to help motivate them.
4) Do you have tips you’d recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Go on a tour of different companies that have jobs that may interest you. You may find that there are so many areas of computer science that you can study but finding the area that you truly enjoy can take some time. Try some tutorials and do some hands-on work and you’ll find out how fun it can be.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I enjoy going to science museums, watching movies and trying new restaurants with my family when we’re not traveling to soccer matches. I also enjoy scrapbooking.