Alison Goss Eng is the program manager for feedstock supply & logistics & advanced algal systems in EERE's Bioenergy Technology Office. She guides a diverse research portfolio developing technologies to provide a reliable, affordable & sustainable biomass supply to the growing advanced bioenergy industry. She has her B.S. in biology, english, & communications from Guilford College; her Ph.D. in earth & atmospheric sciences from Purdue University.
1.) What inspired you to work in STEM?
I have wanted to work in the sciences for as long as I can remember. My father has worked in the pork production industry for 40 years, and so I had first-hand knowledge of the way that human activity can impact natural resources. When I was in high school, North Carolina experienced a major hurricane, and effluent from farm lagoons leaked into rivers and streams in the eastern part of the state. This led to the state legislature putting a moratorium on new pork production farms in the state. It was then that I decided to pursue a career that would include developing and implementing technologies that would support industry growth as well as beneficial environmental outcomes.
2.) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?
The best part of my job is the diversity of committed people I get to work with on solving the huge challenges facing our Nation. On a regular basis, I interact with scientists, engineers, farmers, businessmen, congressional staffers, students, public servants from many federal agencies, and many others. Everyone I encounter with is working hard to build an economy based on technologies to make new sources of clean, affordable energy available to the public.
3.) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
I believe the most effective thing we can do is to provide children living examples of the success that underrepresented groups can have in STEM, and give them access to strong mentors and role models. When girls see people they identify with succeeding in STEM fields, they are more likely to be able to imagine themselves as scientists and engineers. It all starts with how we teach children what is acceptable for boys versus for girls to enjoy, Breaking down those boundaries through increased visibility of women who spend their days studying cars or dinosaurs or robots is a great approach.
4.) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
I have never regretted studying English and Communications in college in addition to being a science major. Being able to communicate, both in writing and orally, is critically important to do the type of work that I do. Scientists have a responsibility to be able to talk about what they are doing and why it is important. Public awareness of and support for technology innovation is the only way that we can succeed in ushering in a new clean energy economy.
5.) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I have a seven year old and a four year old, so I spend most of my free time chasing them around. This last year, I started running, and completed my first half marathon in November. Running is a great option because I can do it while my family is asleep!