As a civil engineer, Brooke always enjoyed applying her math skills to address water management challenges. After several years as a private consultant in water resource management, she obtained an MBA from the University of New Mexico and began work at Sandia as a technology transfer professional, leveraging intellectual property developed by the laboratory to benefit the US economy. During her time at Sandia Brooke has been involved in research including grid resiliency, neutron generator production, mechanical processes, and supply chain development.
Embracing lifelong learning and combining her passion for energy studies, Brooke is currently studying at Johns Hopkins towards an MS in Energy Policy and Climate. She provides her dedication to service through a multi-faceted approach to addressing technical problems. Brooke models this approach for other women through her Sandia Women’s Action Network (SWAN) participation and co-mentoring with a group of women at Sandia.
What inspired you to work in STEM?
Growing up, aptitude-wise, math and science were my best subjects. We moved around a lot and I found stability and continuity in the math curriculum. I have always loved literature and art, languages and culture, but math held a special sturdiness to it. I started my undergraduate degree thinking I would pursue physics, but as I moved through the curriculum I shifted to mechanical engineering before ultimately becoming a civil engineer. Civil engineering brought the opportunity to analyze and build things, as well as to study and protect the environment.
What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
There are seemingly infinite opportunities across the DOE laboratory complex to contribute to solving important challenges. I worked in nuclear deterrence prior to joining the RDSI group in January 2020. Before that I worked in water resources and technology transfer. The common theme in my career is one of public service motivated by the chance to improve societal stability. At this stage of my life and career, I have come to believe that energy is the single greatest contributor to societal stability. And this reality is only growing in magnitude. Power generation, transmission, distribution, and resilience are collectively among the most urgent challenges facing humanity today. I am proud of any contribution I can make to a more sustainable, secure, modern electric grid. I get up every day knowing that my efforts may improve the future for my kids and for future generations.
How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
This is an interesting challenge. The current demographics are an inheritance of age old, systemic inequities that can take generations to recognize let alone to overcome. Tenacity in encouraging future scientists of all kinds is key. We must look for biases and stereotypes and actively question the norms we have taken for granted; always remembering to ask why. And we need to continue to remove barriers and dispel misconceptions. STEM is not one thing; it is many things. The truth is, there are unlimited versions of a STEM career. STEM allows a person to develop into their passions with tools that remain valuable no matter where your career takes you. If I could tell the young women and other underrepresented people interested in this field one thing it would be: STEM means embracing your curiosity, following your interests, and working to further collective understanding. It is not a box into which you must fit yourself. It is not predefined. It is a wide-open field needing smart, passionate, inspired people to define it. Do not be dissuaded by preconceptions, define the profession for yourself.
Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Work hard. Make it your own. You will be glad you did. There is so much left to discover and understand. If a person has the aptitude and curiosity to follow a STEM path, don’t allow demographics to dissuade you. The field is open and welcoming of people of all kinds.
Keep working until you find your niche. We need women not to fit into something that already exists, we need women to help shape the future.
When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I love spending time my friends and family. I love to read and philosophize. I love music and poetry. I’m a runner and yogini. I ski and golf (badly). I love to cook for others, I’m a proud mama and wife. I am a dreamer, optimist, and adventurer.
Learn more about our programs & resources for women and girls in STEM at /women