Dr. Qing Ji is Deputy Head of Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program in Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics Division. Qing joined Berkeley Lab as a scientist in 2005 after earning her PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and conducting postdoctoral research at Harvard University. Qing has been widely recognized internationally for her contributions to the development of advanced accelerators, ion sources, and ion source applications in accelerator front ends, neutron generators, and semiconductor manufacturing. She holds seven U.S. patents and received an R&D 100 Award in 2012. Over the past four years, she has been the principal investigator for the development of a compact laser-driven ion beam accelerator. Her work on a microelectro-mechanical systems-based compact ion accelerator as part of another project, which received highly competitive ARPA-E support, was featured on the front page of Review of Scientific Instruments in June 2017.
What inspired you to work in STEM?
I have always been very curious about how things work. When I was a little girl, my dad used to share with me and my brother the new science discoveries and technologies he read in books, which got me very interested in STEM.
What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
People. I enjoy working in a team of diverse individuals with different fields of expertise. Also, I’ve loved science since I was in elementary school. Understanding why and how things work is fascinating to me. My research in the next generation of smaller and cheaper accelerators could make accelerators more accessible, thus expanding their use in high-energy physics research, industry, medicine, national security, and materials science.
How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
I think it is important to expose children, especially girls, to science at an early stage of education, and promote outreach programs to encourage girls and young women to enroll in and pursue degrees in STEM majors, ultimately leading to STEM careers. It is equally important to improve workplace culture and policies to keep young female scientists and engineers in STEM fields.
Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Be persistent and resilient. Look for opportunities to gain skills and experience. Diverse skill sets and knowledge can help you adapt in a fast-changing field.