Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

Women @ Energy: Eve Kovacs

September 29, 2015

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Eve Kovacs works with the cosmological simulations group at Argonne. She was originally trained as a high-energy physicist, and has worked in both theoretical and experimental particle physics.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

In high school, I was the only person (male or female) who liked physics. I found it intellectually stimulating and very satisfying to learn how nature really worked. It was fascinating to me that one could use mathematics to describe physical phenomena and to calculate the outcome of experiments. I couldn't imagine a more interesting career than doing research to advance our understanding of nature.

 

2) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?

The most exciting thing about my work is the fact that every day I get to try and solve new problems. Some are relatively easy and others are very difficult. The work is always challenging. I never stop learning and I am always finding out something new.

Eve's current project is to use large n-body simulations of the universe to build mock skies that are used by sky-survey experiments for comparing the observations to theoretical predictions. These comparisons provide the information that enables us to refine our understanding of cosmology.

She is a member of the Dark Energy Survey and works in the supernova group. The group uses supernova observations to study the expansion history of the universe and to elucidate the nature of dark energy. 

 

3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

This is a difficult question for me to answer because I don't really understand why people don't like mathematics and physics. These subjects have a reputation for being difficult and that may discourage people from pursuing them. I think that schools should encourage everyone, but especially girls, to try challenging things in many areas of life. This includes physical activities and sports. I believe that developing confidence and skills in these areas carries over to other activities so that girls will be less intimidated by the challenges that science offers.

 

4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

My advice is to persevere in whatever way you can. I haven't had a particularly smooth career path. At times, I worked in computer support to make ends meet. When, I saw an opportunity to contribute to the scientific effort in our division, even though I knew very little about cosmology at the time, I just jumped in. That persistence paid off, as I was able to transition back to doing more research.

 

5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

My hobbies are ski-mountaineering, climbing, running, and sewing. I love being outdoors in the mountains, especially in winter. Skiing and climbing are both challenging sports requiring lots of different skills. I also design and sew almost all of my clothes. I create wearable art and enter a lot of competitions. The process of designing garments has a lot in common with solving problems in science. I have taught classes on this very topic at several sewing conventions.