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Women @ Energy: Maya Gokhale

March 13, 2013 - 9:20am

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Maya Gokhale has been a Computer Scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) since 2007. Her career spans research conducted in academia, industry, and National Labs, most recently Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Maya Gokhale has been a Computer Scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) since 2007. Her career spans research conducted in academia, industry, and National Labs, most recently Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Maya Gokhale has been a Computer Scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) since 2007. Her career spans research conducted in academia, industry, and National Labs, most recently Los Alamos National Laboratory. Maya received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Pennsylvania in 1983. Her current research interests include data intensive architectures and reconfigurable computing. Maya is co-recipient of three patents related to memory architectures for embedded processors, reconfigurable computing architectures, and cybersecurity; an R&D 100 award for a C-to-FPGA compiler; and an Intelligence Community Award. She is co-author of more than one hundred technical publications. Maya is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at LLNL, and a Fellow of the IEEE.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

I was drawn to mathematics and computer science because I enjoy logical thinking and problem solving to create new ways to build and use computers. My family background is the liberal arts, where there can be many equally valid points of view about a topic, so that the differentiator is how well the topic is presented and how persuasive and eloquent the presenter can be. I preferred mathematics, where within a particular axiomatic formalism, a statement could proved right or wrong. Fortunately I continued to love math and science even after I encountered Godel's incompleteness theorems, and discovered that these topics are not immune to uncertainty.

2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

I am excited by the challenging scientific and national security problems, by the scale of computing resources needed to address these problems, and by the importance of the work. It is a unique opportunity use my mind to tackle difficult tasks and make a difference. Especially in computer science, there are many opportunities in industry today. I feel a satisfaction in using my mind to work on problems that have direct impact on science and national security.

3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

Many girls feel intimidated by science and technology. Mentoring, women's support organizations, women-only projects, offering classroom projects that would appeal more to girls are ways to keep girls and women engaged in STEM.

4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

I would first encourage people to study as much math as possible. I'd also encourage students to seek internships and get as wide experience as possible in fields that interest you. What drew and kept me in this field was the opportunity to do real, concrete projects and see the tangible results of my work.

5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

I most enjoy spending time with my family. My hobbies are yoga, hiking and reading murder mysteries.

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