On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) had the pleasure of showcasing another of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 17 national laboratories in its third session of the “Awareness, Interest and Access” webinar series. This session featured the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), a collaborative national center for fusion and plasma research and the only DOE lab with a fusion energy science mission. Webinar attendees received a hands-on, delightfully interactive overview of the many opportunities at the PPPL for minority stakeholders.  

The session’s robust agenda started with a discussion on business partnerships. Hekima Qualls, Director of Procurement, and Marissa Zara, Procurement Specialist and Small Business Liaison Officer, shared PPPL’s commitment to fostering small businesses. In fact, 50% of the work PPPL subcontracts out goes to small businesses and it continuously looks to expand. PPPL recognizes that its greatest strength lies in collaborations with other institutions and small industries, and therefore actively seeks engagement with groups like Small Disadvantage Businesses (SDB), Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB), and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) through its programming.

The session then switched gears to educational focused initiatives, whereby the PPPL presenters highlighted the wide variety of opportunities for minority stakeholders at different levels, from undergraduate students to postdocs and faculty. In hopes of maintaining a healthy and diverse pipeline to tackle the lab’s greatest goals and challenges, PPPL offers a multitude of education and workforce development programs, such as a Science Undergraduate Internship Program (SULI) and a Community College Internship Program (CCI). In addition, PPPL’s Engineering Undergraduate Internship Program recruits specifically from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and its MSI Faculty Workshop is a 3-day intensive program to help bring plasma research to the classroom. The lab also offers employment and training opportunities such as its Apprenticeship Program – a fully funded 4-year, on-the-job training that helps prepare a potential workforce interested in joining the plasma program. These various initiatives emphasize the lab’s deep commitment to diversity and equity in its community.

This webinar session effectively showcased the passionate and dedicated community at the laboratory. The speakers emphasized that the lab strives to develop a positive and inclusive work environment with a commitment to providing programs and services that push for equal employment opportunities. As stated by Barbara Harrison who leads the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team at the lab, PPPL’s transformative cultural change is not only visible on the outside, but deeply felt on the inside.

For access to the recording and more events, please visit our Calendar and Events page.