Anelia Milbrandt is a Senior Research Analyst in the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) where she leads technical work related to biomass resources including analyses on their availability, competing uses, economic potential, and market opportunities. She also manages projects and programs related to renewable energy development in the United States and abroad. She has been at NREL since 2003.
Anelia leads the Waste-to-Energy Technical Assistance for Local Governments on behalf of the DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office. Under this program, she works with various stakeholders towards communities’ sustainable development. She also leads NREL’s activities related to analyzing organic waste potential from resource, energy, economic, and market perspective. Prior to joining NREL, Anelia worked for the Minnesota State Legislature where she supported the Legislative Coordinating Commission with geospatial analyses. She holds a Master of Science degree in Geography from University of Sofia, Bulgaria.
What inspired you to work in STEM?
While in school, I particularly enjoyed biology and geography and knew that I would pursue a career in one of these two disciplines. I also knew that research is what I will do because I love to learn, explore, and analyze. Geography won at the end because it is both a natural and a social science which satisfied my thirst for knowledge on various topics. I found it unique, complex, and a fascinating subject.
What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
Energy is in everything we do, and I’m thrilled to support the development of alternative and clean energy technologies. Working among world-class experts, addressing some of the most challenging issues the world is facing today, and being part of new technological developments have made my career at NREL very exciting and fulfilling. I’m constantly challenged through diverse projects and new horizons which is stimulating and invigorating.
How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
I believe that it all starts at home. Parents need to expose girls to various experiences that include STEM early on and if girls show interest in the field, encourage and support them. During school years, I think it is important for STEM teachers to expose students to role models so girls and other underrepresented groups can see themselves in these positions. Exposure to female role models is also important for women in their early career in STEM. I believe a mentoring program for girls at school and early-career women at work would provide the support and encouragement that these groups need to succeed in STEM.
Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Be patient, persistent, and stay positive. Find mentors to support your professional and personal development. Establish a good network. Work hard and be flexible.
When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I love to travel, in the US and abroad. I’m an avid birdwatcher with many feeders in my yard. I love reading and enjoy watching movies. Most of all, I love spending time with my husband and two boys in natural settings or exploring cultural sites.