Deanna Willis is a communications manager at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). She writes, edits, and manages the content and production of high-level publications, presentations, posters, websites, social media, videos, and other communication products. Deanna interned at LLNL 17 years ago while pursuing her master’s degree. She now works with a team of managers, scientists, editors, web developers, and designers to highlight the innovative, world-class work of the Computing organization at LLNL. Deanna earned a master’s degree in English from San Jose State University, and she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from University of the Pacific.
What inspired you to work in STEM?
I’m a bibliophile through and through, and my heart belongs to literature. However, my Dad worked at LLNL, and I grew up hearing about the work and mission of the national labs. Dad encouraged me to intern here when I was in my master’s program. Now, I’m a proud second-generation LLNL employee.
What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
I consider myself a student of the world. I simply love to learn. The national laboratories are great for people like me because the work is challenging, stimulating, and constantly evolving.
Computing has been a fundamental part of LLNL since its founding more than 65 years ago, and the Lab has a stellar reputation for shaping the frontiers of high performance computing and computer science. Having the opportunity to collaborate with and lend my skills to a brilliant team of scientists is really a privilege. My job is to help tell their stories, and that’s a lot of fun.
How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
Children are inherently inquisitive. Read to them. Explore with them. Make science relatable and exciting with hands-on projects and outings. I don’t know the answers to half the things my kids ask me, so we research and learn together.
If nothing else, spread the word that STEM jobs tend to be high paying, and the demand for qualified STEM professionals is growing three times faster than other job markets.
Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
I have a great job, although it’s not one you’d typically think of when you consider a career in STEM. Think broadly about potential work in science and math. Also, don’t underestimate the value of taking writing and humanities classes. These classes teach you to think critically, analyze problems, and effectively and precisely communicate your thoughts—skills that will be valuable in any field.
When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
My husband coaches high school varsity baseball and my two sons play baseball, flag football, basketball, and soccer—so sports take up a good amount of my time. We have two rescue dogs we adore but cannot train despite our best efforts. I like to balance all of that with a lot of reading and spending time with my friends, drinking local wine and laughing. It’s a sweet life.
Learn more about our programs & resources for women and girls in STEM at http://www.energy.gov/women