Jesse Roberts is the Water Power Lead at Sandia National Laboratories.
Sarah Harman, U.S. Department of Energy

June is Ocean Month, and to celebrate STEM Rising is sharing profiles of Energy Department staff in ocean-related careers. Meet Jesse Roberts.

Jesse Roberts is the Water Power Lead at Sandia National Laboratories. Jesse is a department lead in Sandia National Laboratories’ Water Power Technologies group, focusing on marine renewable energy (MRE), including marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) and offshore wind (OW) research. He is a founding member of Sandia’s Water Power Technologies program that launched in 2009. Jesse has been with Sandia for 21 years, beginning his career studying water resource and sediment management challenges.  Early in his career, he co-founded Sandia’s Soil and Sediment Transport Group. He holds two patents for devices that make direct measurements of sediment erosion and transport properties in riverine, lake, and oceanic environments.

Jesse Roberts is the Water Power Lead at SNL.

What’s your favorite fact about the ocean?

The ocean is an extremely energetic environment that is relentless and peaceful, as well as unforgiving and fragile. It supports a wide diversity of life and is home to the largest animal on earth, the blue whale.

What do you do to celebrate Ocean Month?

Each year, my family takes a vacation to the Pacific Coast where we visit family and friends from Southern California to Oregon. We make sure to visit the ocean at every stop to recreate and pay our respects to the big blue. This year, with world events as they are, we are watching a lot of Netflix shows about the wonders of the ocean.

What inspired you to work in water power?

The challenges associated with working in the ocean and the opportunities they present.

What do you do in your job?

Conduct research to help the water power industry realize its full potential. This includes developing novel tools and studying ways to maximize MHK power production, while minimizing/mitigating potential deleterious effects.

What books or movies about the ocean do you recommend?

For a fast, easy read I like The Old Man and the Sea.

For a thoughtful movie (and book) about survival with a twist, I like Life of Pi.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in ocean-related careers?

Do it. Follow whatever scientific discipline that interests you because the ocean industry is totally open to and needs new ideas and new technologies to push the industry forward.

For more Ocean Month profiles and STEM resources, visit