Brienne Seiner is currently a research scientist in the Global Nuclear Science and Technology group which is under the National Security Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Washington State University and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Missouri. She is currently involved with projects related to nuclear forensics and non-proliferation.
What inspired you to work in STEM?
I had amazing science teachers throughout my education that inspired me to pursue a career in science. I have always been a questioner, never taking anything at face value, and rather than teachers (and my parents!) getting frustrated with that, they encouraged and taught me to figure out how I could find the solution. It was really a natural fit to then pursue a career in science.
What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
I very much enjoy the application of the work. There is a vast spectrum to science that ranges from basic/fundamental work to extremely applied. I like to fall somewhere in the middle and the department of energy offers that flexibility.
How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
This is a very complex question that I have thought a lot about and have very few answers to. It is interesting because although I do believe women are becoming more present in science fields, there seems to be some trepidation for women to become leaders in STEM areas. I would say confidently that having strong female role models at a young age or at least male role models that encourage interested girls into STEM fields is the first step. Beyond that, I think that women (and men too!) would benefit from an increased family support system from employers (i.e. more substantial maternity/paternity leave options or employer operated daycare) to help ease the pressures of maintaining a healthy work and family life.
Do you have tips you’d recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
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.
When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I love to spend time with my family in any way possible. Sometimes that means sitting on the back patio, or it could be camping or playing golf. I will basically try anything if my family wants to try it – although my husband is trying to convince me to sky dive and I have yet to be convinced!
Learn more about our programs & resources for women and girls in STEM at http://www.energy.gov/women