Erika Roesler is currently an atmospheric and climate scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Atmospheric Sciences. Erika has been at Sandia for 10 years, where she began as a graduate intern. During her time at Sandia Erika has worked in climate modeling, where her research seeks to understand how clouds may vary as a result of climate change.
During her time at Sandia, Erika has grown immensely as a scientist and maintained active mentoring activities for undergraduate, graduate, and early career STEM professionals. She also co-chairs a local elementary school science fair and presents polar-related science demonstrations and talks to their classrooms.
What inspired you to work in STEM?
Growing up, I enjoyed computers, math, writing, reading, and especially nature. I knew I wanted to work in a field where I could try to make a difference to improve lives and our planet. Physics and atmospheric science was the perfect fit for me.
Along the way, I discovered I like technology, and I like trying to apply new techniques to old problems. For instance, right now, I am on a project that will use virtual reality to analyze clouds simulated by massive supercomputers. The viewing of clouds in an evolving three-dimensional space is something only birds and pilots have been able to do. This technology might lower the bar for accessibility and allow more users to understand remote, inaccessible natural processes.
What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
I am excited about the vision and mission of the Energy Department, and how science-based actions can improve humanity’s livelihood and outcome. The focused perspective on trying to understand changes to clouds through climate change motivates and innovates my work.
How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
I think our country can engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM by making safe natural, outdoor spaces more accessible. Experiencing nature in a safe way has inspired me to enter this field.
Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
To enter this field of work, I would recommend diving into nature. Find what fascinates you, then ask questions and find answers. Remember your journey is not a rapid sprint, you can back track and reset. Take your time to find rhythm of the ebbs and flows to get where you want.