Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

Women @ Energy: Michele Wolfgram

September 22, 2015

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Michele L. Wolfgram is responsible for the overall Emergency Management Program at ORNL. The program provides coordination and direction for planning, preparedness, response, and recovery for emergency conditions and/or abnormal events. 

​1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted a scientific career. As a young child, I was more interested in conducting experiments with my chemistry set and investigating things under a microscope than having dolls and playing dress-up. I had many opportunities in my youth to participate in various extracurricular programs related to science, and I took full advantage of those offerings. As I progressed through my education, my love of math became more apparent and an engineering degree seemed like the most logical way to combine both interests. 

Michele attended the University of Rochester and earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering.

 

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

Overall a career in emergency management is very rewarding, knowing that the decisions you make could help mitigate events and protect people from hazards. Within DOE, emergency management is also a very technical field with specific requirements for detailed analyses of potential hazardous materials releases. While my beginnings in this field centered on the scientific analysis, what I really enjoy is taking that technical information and translating it into plans and procedures for everyone to use in a coordinated emergency response.

Michele is responsible for the overall Emergency Management Program at ORNL. The program provides coordination and direction for planning, preparedness, response, and recovery for emergency conditions and/or abnormal events where the potential exists for personal injury; damage to facilities or equipment; release of toxic, radioactive or hazardous materials; and/or impact from security related emergencies. 

 

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

Based on my experiences, I would recommend additional programs to expose youth to all the different types of scientific and technical careers. There are so many opportunities within the STEM fields that kids often find a passion without even realizing they’re interested in a STEM activity.

 

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

Career paths rarely follow a straight line and usually don’t end where you expect. You never know what seemingly random skill or lesson may turn into the dream job you didn’t even know about. So, learn everything you can and never stop listening. 

 

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

I love all things outdoors, especially hiking, camping, and backpacking.