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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

Ms. Wendy Baca initiated a second career with Los Alamos National Laboratory in June 2012, as an Executive Advisor in the Principal Associate Directorate for the Weapons Program, supporting initiatives including the NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan and Strategic Deterrence.
Women @ Energy: Wendy Baca

"Probably the most important thing I could recommend – as evidence by my personal experience - is to not be intimidated and to not be in a hurry. I was definitely overwhelmed a few times but, I never gave up and I’m really glad I didn’t. "

Vanessa Tolosa is an engineer in the Materials Engineering Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Women @ Energy: Vanessa Tolosa

"Take any opportunity to get experience outside your field. If you are a material scientist, intern for a lab in molecular biology, organic chemistry, or electrical engineering. Find out who would benefit the most from your research and spend time with the people or industry you hope to affect."

Women @ Energy: Carolyn Albiston

"Promote yourself and your accomplishments. Ask someone specific to be your mentor, male or female. You can have more than one for different purposes. Most people are flattered to be asked."

Félicie Albert is an experimental plasma physicist at the National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Félicie Albert

"... I do something unique, and that every day I learn something new and different. I do experiments using intense lasers, including the National Ignition Facility, the biggest laser in the world. I work with a lot of talented people on challenging problems. When you work really hard on designing an experiment, the excitement when you get your first data and see that it works is an amazing feeling."

Jennie Jorgenson has been working at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO since 2012. Here she's on campus, playing music with colleagues. Photo credit Dennis Schroeder
Women @ Energy: Jennie Jorgenson

"If you enjoy tackling challenging problems and asking big questions, STEM might be a good fit. It’s essential to make sure that your chosen field of work can keep you interested – passion can help make a great scientist."

Women @ Energy: Jessica Osuna

"I feel that it is so very important for girls and under-represented groups to understand that they already have skills that are valuable in the STEM fields! Perseverance, teamwork, and curiosity are just as important as skills in math and problem solving. You don't need to become someone different to be valuable and successful in science! "

Dr. Pan is a staff scientist in the Computational & Mathematical Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Wenxiao Pan

"I am always motivated by the DOE mission applications that lead to practical use of the methods we developed to real-world problems."

Women @ Energy
Women @ Energy: Wendy Shaw

"Look at the interest that shows like CSI and Breaking Bad have generated—forensic science programs have skyrocketed at universities around the country. Even though the TV shows over-simplify these fields, they bring it to a level that makes young people see how much could be done with it and how powerful it is….and FUN."

Shannon Goodwin is a senior research scientist in the Nuclear Materials Analysis Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Shannon Goodwin

"It is genuinely rewarding to know that as scientists, we are potentially helping educate future generations of scientists by either increasing an educator’s comfort level with science or by spreading our enthusiasm for science on to their students."

Sarah Widder is an engineer in the Energy Policy & Economics Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She focuses on sustainable design, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas management work.
Women @ Energy: Sarah Widder

"I love problem solving. Engineering was the right fit for me because it appeals to the rational, logical part of my brain, but allows me to apply it in a way that makes a difference and improves the world around me."

Women @ Energy: Vassiliki-Alexandra (Vanda) Glezakou

"It is not easy, but then nothing that matters really is. Of course there will be challenges and heartbreak, but stick with it, and it will be rewarding in the end. Embrace the ambiguity; you will be stronger for it. Use it to fuel your goals and ambitions and you will contribute to a better future for the next generation."

Nora Wang is an engineer in the Building Energy Systems group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Nora Wang

"So often, there’s this image of someone locked away in a laboratory all day. We need to help women and girls understand the scope of work that’s out there and the many different options. They can’t make the right decisions without adequate knowledge."

Laura Riihimaki is an atmospheric scientist in the Climate Physics group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Laura Riihimaki

"Beware of the glass ceiling that’s in your own head. Social pressure can make you think you shouldn’t be there, but you can choose to ignore that voice in your own mind. Focus on what you want to do rather than what you think you’re able to do. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, being willing to say you don’t know something in order to learn it may actually be the smartest thing you can do."

Dr. Jennifer Comstock is currently the interim associate director of the Atmospheric Chemistry & Meteorology group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Jennifer Comstock

"We also need to encourage girls to think outside the box, ask questions, and not be afraid to raise their hands in class – too often peer pressure prevents them from trying to get involved. We need to provide them with experience and exposure to women scientists across all types of scientific disciplines so they understand the range of options."

Gokcen Kestor is a computational scientist in the high performance computing group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She focuses on performance and power modeling, analyzing the energy cost of data movement in HPC applications, and designing and implementing fault-tolerant algorithms for task-based applications.
Women @ Energy: Gokcen Kestor

"My whole life, all I ever dreamed about when growing up was to help people in a powerful way. I'm inspired by the fact that we know so much more about the world today than five years ago, and there are still so many things to discover to make the world a better place."

Dr. Patello is a senior project manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Gert Patello

"Women and girls just don’t suddenly get interested in science in college. They need to be put on the path young, ideally at the elementary level. We need to recognize interest and aptitude and encourage them and give them opportunities and provide supportive environments."

Dr. Emilie Hogan is a Computational Mathematics Scientist in the Computational Mathematics group at PNNL. She graduated from Rutgers University in May 2011 with a doctorate in Mathematics.
Women @ Energy: Emilie Hogan

"Seeing the “real world” before having to be in it gives you a good taste of what it will be like. Other than that, I think take a wide range of classes in college – make sure that you don’t have a narrow expertise, so you will be more valuable to the company."

Brienne Seiner is currently a research scientist in the radiochemistry analysis group which is under the National Security Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Brienne Seiner

"I recommend talking to people in the field you are interested in pursuing, even if that means sending emails or picking up the phone. There is no skill more important than networking and finding people that want to help and encourage your goals is vital for a successful career in almost anything."

Bing Liu is a chief research engineer in the Building Energy Systems group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Bing Liu

"I think it requires a fundamental change of culture and stereotype in the United State to engage more women and girls in STEM. We can provide more opportunity to girls at high school as summer interns and team up them with women scientists and engineers as mentors."

Allison M. Thomson is a researcher and group leader at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Maryland, College Park.
Women @ Energy: Allison Thomson

"Find a mentor who you trust and find inspiring, and explore as many areas of science as you find interesting. Don’t just think about “traditional” paths with a narrow focus – think creatively."

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.

Faranak Nekoogar, Ph.D. is the lead researcher on Ultra-wideband Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Women @ Energy: Faranak Nekoogar

"Technical leaders need to be independent thinkers and doers, and we must encourage young women to be ambitious and not get discouraged by minor setbacks that might arise from a male dominated field of engineering. Overcoming hurdles, both technical and cultural, can be an enjoyable and enriching experience for women in STEM."

At Argonne National Laboratory, computational biologist Nicole M. Scott studies the relationship between patterns of microbes and diseases or environmental contaminants.
Women @ Energy: Nicole Scott

"I think people should see STEM as the best thing they could do for themselves. For one thing, even in the current economic climate, jobs are available. Second, STEM careers create value. What’s more, STEM jobs offer good salaries, and give women independence and freedom to pursue the lives they want."

Emily Shemon, a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, is passionate about showing young women that science, technology, and math careers are a possibility for them.
Women @ Energy: Emily Shemon

"Every middle-school student should have the opportunity to be paired up with a local STEM professional or teacher who will encourage their interests, get them involved in STEM-related extracurricular activities, help them decide their coursework, and let them know that STEM careers are a real possibility for them."

Natalia V. Saraeva is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, where she serves as a project integrator lead for the research reactor conversion program.
Women @ Energy: Natalia Saraeva

"STEM is not for a particular gender, it is for a particular mindset: if you like math and science, if you have a curious mind and like to discover new things and/or solve problems—STEM is for you!"