Since 1985, the United States has set aside the first week of May to celebrate Public Service Recognition Week. This recognition honors the hardworking individuals serving our nation as federal, state, county, and local government employees.
At the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), we are privileged to share the inspiring stories of our employees. They demonstrate the power of taking action toward advancing clean energy technologies and building a more sustainable future. They also serve as shining examples of how anyone can become a Clean Energy Champion.
From May 8 to 12, 2023, EERE will introduce you to some of our outstanding public servants to learn why they serve. Below is a brief interview with Mark Elless, a technology manager in the Bioenergy Technologies Office.
Mark Elless (he/him/his)
Technology Manager, Bioenergy Technologies Office
10 years of public service
What drew you to public service?
Many of my family members were/are in public service—my dad was in the Air Force for over 20 years, my sister was in the government for over 25 years, and my brother and his wife each have over 40 years of public service with the government. I have always admired their dedication to public service, and I am proud to have followed in their footsteps.
What does being in public service mean to you?
I can help solve problems that affect many people. In the Bioenergy Technologies Office, I work with my colleagues to help decarbonize the aviation sector by replacing petroleum-based jet fuels with bio-based, sustainable jet fuels. By doing so, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help combat global warming. This phenomenon not only impacts us in the United States but also vulnerable populations around the globe.
What aspect of public service do you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect of public service is knowing that I am making a true and long-lasting difference in the lives of others. The continual displacement of petroleum-based jet fuel with bio-based jet fuel will have environmental benefits that protect our fragile planet and human health for years to come.
Can you describe the path that brought you to EERE/your career in clean energy?
My background is in earth science, geology, and soil science. Early in my career, I used this knowledge to clean up soils contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides through plants (i.e., phytoremediation). However, about 15-20 years ago, my career focus changed to using plants as feedstocks for biofuels. I was working with a couple of small businesses in this effort when I saw an opening in the Bioenergy Technologies Office. I read the job description, admired the vision and mission, applied, and got the position. The evolution in my career has allowed me the opportunity to utilize plants as a vehicle for a cleaner earth on a global scale.
What advice do you have for Clean Energy Champions who want to pursue careers in public service?
I highly encourage Clean Energy Champions interested in public service to consider working with DOE. We are pursuing cutting-edge work and welcome passionate minds with diverse experiences to join us. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with DOE and wish I had transferred to the government sooner. It is a very exciting time to work toward reducing carbon in the atmosphere and the carbon intensity of the feedstocks grown to produce biofuels. I am lucky to be surrounded by talented colleagues who share the same vision and mission. DOE is truly a great place to work!
Clean En∙er∙gy Cham∙pi∙on
/klēn/ /ˈenərjē/ /ˈCHampēən/
1. A person or group that takes action to support or join the transition to a renewable energy economy, with the knowledge that reducing carbon emissions provides daily benefits to every American so they can live happy and healthy lives.