Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

Women @ Energy: Katie Heroux

September 22, 2015

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Katie J. Heroux is a research scientist in the National Security Directorate / Defense Programs Technology Section at Savannah River National Lab. 

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

As a child, I was interested in everything from archaeology to figure skating to journalism. It was in the eighth grade, however, that I realized my love for scientific discovery (thanks to an amazing teacher) and decided to pursue a degree in chemistry.

Katie attained her bachelor of science degree from the University of New Hampshire; her master's and Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego.

 

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

Before working for the DOE, my research in academia was primarily based in fundamental knowledge with no real world applications. Now, my research efforts help develop technologies for a facility that runs 24/7 so I am able to see the immediate importance and implications of my work. The idea that my work plays a role in solving some of the world’s toughest problems is exciting and rewarding!

Katie's primary focus is on hydrogen processing (purification, isotope separation, and storage) technologies and development in support of the Savannah River Site Tritium Facilities and various tritium fuel cycle applications around the world.

 

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

By encouraging successful women in STEM fields to share their stories, talents, and experiences as often as possible. Our government, industries, and academic institutions need to not only support this type of outreach but also value and reward it.

 

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

Don’t worry too much about “what you want to be when you grow up”; just do something you feel passionate and excited about. If anyone had told me I would be where I am today when I began this journey, I wouldn’t have believed them. Be open, be adaptable, and be willing to learn from each new opportunity that comes your way.

 

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

I like to stay active in my free time with tennis, yoga, weightlifting, hiking, and running. I also love to write and watch TV to relax.