Five National Laboratory scientists were selected for the AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador program to inspire girls to pursue STEM.
DOE's Ambassadors from left to right: Amy Elliott, ORNL J'Tia Hart, Argonne National Lab, Lyda Hill, a creator of the IF/THEN initiative, Harshini Mukundan, LANL, Mercedes Taylor, Sandia National Laboratories, Jessica Esquivel, Fermilab.

“When you don’t know what you can’t do it’s amazing what you can do.” These words from famous oceanographer and scuba diver Dr. Sylvia Earle rang through the Perot Museum Theatre in Dallas, Texas, on October 21, as she spoke to over 125 women at the launch of the training program for American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) IF/THEN Ambassadors.

The program seeks to empower women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers and inspire the next generation of pioneers.

Five U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratory scientists were chosen for this prestigious, high profile program including:

  • Amy Elliott, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Mercedes Taylor, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Harshini Mukundan, Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • J’Tia Hart, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Jessica Esquivel, Fermilab
Tweet from Jessica Esquivel, Fermilab.

The 125 Ambassadors spent October 20-23 in Dallas, Texas learning new ways to inspire others in STEM careers. That included media training, making press kits, shooting video interviews and visiting students, as well as meeting other inspirational women like “Her Deepness” Dr. Sylvia Earle, Former First Lady Laura Bush, Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Geena Davis, and philanthropist Lyda Hill.

“I am beyond excited to be in the company of a unique sorority of STEM rockstars. I am ready to be an example to the next generation of young ladies and show them that we exist and excel,” said J’Tia Hart, Program Lead for the nuclear engineering division at Argonne National Laboratory.

For the next year, DOE’s ambassadors and their colleagues will be doing so through everything from being featured in original media content for women STEM professionals to participating in STEM outreach events with middle school girls. The National Girls Collaborative Project will also host a digital asset library with images and video of the Ambassadors’ stories and images for nonprofit and educational use.

In doing so, they’ll be following the path of great women in STEM who have served at DOE, such as the Girls of Atomic City who worked on the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge National Lab, Millie Dresselhaus, who directed the Office of Science, and many others now in leadership today.

DOE dedicated to encouraging women to pursue STEM careers, to advancing leadership, and to changing the world.

To learn about the U.S. Department of Energy’s outreach efforts to engage girls and women in STEM, visit

To learn about the IF/THEN initiative, visit

AnneMarie Horowitz
AnneMarie Horowitz has been with the Energy Department since 2010 and is the Acting Communications Director for the Arctic Energy Office.
more by this author