After years of working as a senior environmental specialist with the Navajo Nation Abandoned Mine Lands (NNAML), Joni Tallbull has joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) as a physical scientist in the Shiprock, New Mexico, office in the Navajo Nation.
From an early age, Tallbull always knew she wanted to be a scientist. “I actually become interested in environmental science when I was 10 years old. I did a science fair project in the fifth grade on solar panels, and ever since then it’s all I have ever wanted to do. When I found out as a kid I could spend my days outside, I was sold on working in the environmental field.”
Tallbull earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physics with an emphasis in chemistry from Occidental College in 2010. During her time in school, she was a part of several different organizations, including American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Alpha Chi Sigma, and First Nations.
From there, Tallbull moved to Diné College in the Navajo Nation in 2011, where she became an environmental technician with the Diné Environmental Institute. During this fully grant-funded program, Tallbull created and provided resources to STEM students at the university. These resources included providing internships, learning opportunities, and helping with bridging programs. She also helped professors bring in presenters for lectures and provided additional resources and learning tools.
In November 2013, Tallbull began her career at the Navajo Nation AML Reclamation Program with the Navajo Nation Tribal government.
During her time there, not only did Tallbull help with the environmental monitoring for the AML, but she also assisted on the cooperative agreement with DOE.
“With the cooperative agreement, I was helping out field activities, public relations activities, providing relevant Navajo tribal regulations and the departments’ point of contact information, and I helped to disseminate information that was coming from DOE to interested stakeholders and to departments within the Navajo Nation,” Tallbull said.
In May 2022, Tallbull began her transition to LM after eight years of working with the Navajo Nation AML.
“I decided to move to DOE LM because DOE has always had a great quality of work and work ethic. The mission of DOE LM is in alignment with my own personal goals of environmental remediation, so for me it was a pretty easy decision to make the transition,” Tallbull added.
While Tallbull is still settling into her new role, she said she is excited about her new responsibilities and opportunities.
“I’m looking forward to getting immersed in all the different projects and working with the various LM sites. I’m excited to get to work with the team at DOE on implementing remediation strategies across the board.”
In her off time, Tallbull said she enjoys spending time with her family and getting out into nature enjoying activities like camping, hiking, and running.