The Women of Geothermal. Image courtesy of the Geothermal Technologies Office.

The Energy Department’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) is fortunate to have many talented and dedicated thought leaders on staff. These individuals are experts in their field and strive every day to advance geothermal as an economically competitive source of renewable energy. We appreciate the efforts of all GTO staff, but in honor of Women’s History Month, EERE would like to celebrate the leadership and technical contributions provided by GTO’s female employees.

Currently, women are underrepresented in scientific, technical, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, ranging from a low of 7.2% of mechanical engineers to a high of 48% in biological and medical sciences; however, GTO is proud to boast an equal representation of 50% women in our STEM positions.

Like many members of the science community, GTO’s female employees are focused on achieving technology innovation. GTO’s Acting Director Dr. Susan Hamm, for example, is leading the program’s efforts to pursue cutting-edge geothermal energy technology. Although geothermal energy is a powerful resource, it will take innovative processes and technologies to convert heat from the Earth into a remarkably clean and efficient source of energy. Dr. Hamm is providing excellent direction and guidance to achieve these goals.

In addition, GTO Program Manager Lauren Boyd played a critical role in the launch of Phase I of the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), a first-of-its-kind geothermal field observatory initiative. FORGE promotes transformative science and engineering through development of a fully equipped, permitted, and characterized field site—truly innovation in the works! Lauren has helped champion FORGE since 2011, and this initiative would not have been possible without her efforts.

The women of GTO also represent geothermal interests through other outlets. GTO’s Arlene Anderson was appointed to serve on the International Energy Agency’s Geothermal Implementing Agreement Direct Use Annex VIII. This group is tasked with planning expanded roles for direct use of geothermal energy. Participating countries include Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Seeing the need for more women in STEM careers, GTO’s female staff are also committed to supporting the growth and education of women in technical fields. The team takes the time to participate in STEM events at schools and at the Energy Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Further, Physical Scientist Elisabet Metcalfe was instrumental in championing a Geothermal Design Competition, now in its second phase. The competition inspires high school and university students to pair science with art and design, and also connects students with mentors from GTO to help inspire the next generation of critical thinkers.

EERE is thankful for the contributions of the rest of GTO’s female staff as well: Sara Emmons, Laura Garchar, Alethia Marble, Alex Prisjatschew, Nita Scotland, Sam Shiffman, Brittany Segneri, Erin Tulley, and Holly Thomas.

GTO is making great strides toward technological innovation, and women’s contributions have proven critical to the success of this effort.