Chinazor S. Azubike, PhD
Chinazor S. Azubike, PhD

Describe your role in NNSA. What is the best part about your job?
I work on projects directly supporting the Office of Secondary Stage Production Modernization’s Lithium Modernization team. One of the best parts of my job is the versatility in each workday, every day is different, and it is a constant learning experience. I love that each project regardless of how big or small, contributes to a larger purpose supporting NNSA’s great mission. 

What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally? 
I studied energy and environmental systems & economics at North Carolina A&T State University. I’d always wanted to work in public service, and I knew my school's energy and environmental systems doctoral program would help me figure out which path would be the best for me. I worked in several related internship programs throughout my time in college to further expand my network and solidify my interest in energy. I worked under the guidance of some amazing professors who taught me several key lessons. First, they taught me excellence by example. They were the best in each of their fields and arrived there through hard work. Secondly, they believed in me and taught me the power of not giving up and continuing my journey despite challenges.

What led you to a career in nuclear security? 
Although I have always been genuinely interested in a federal career path, I developed a deeper interest for nuclear security after an internship at NNSA. After several conversations with my mentor and researching the different job options available to me, I knew I was on the right path. I want a career that would leave me fulfilled, knowing the long-term impact and significance of my work. 

What’s one of your favorite things about working at NNSA? 
One of my favorite things about working at the NNSA is knowing that we are responsible for keeping the American people and the world safe by safeguarding our nuclear stockpile. I also enjoy the amazing people I am fortunate to work with daily. I work with some of the most brilliant talents, and I enjoy the strong and supportive work environment we created together.

What are the characteristics of the best teams you have been part of?
The best teams I’ve been a part of always had good listeners, good communicators, a clear structure, and solution focused. Also, when team members are free to express their feelings, and share their ideas and disagreements, which are carefully examined until a consensus is reached. 

How did you hear about the fellowship program?
I heard about the fellowship from a mentor when I interned at NNSA in the summer of 2021. He was a former fellow and I enjoyed hearing him talk about all he experienced during his time in the fellowship and the wide range of knowledge he received. 

Any advice for young women and girls interested in a career like yours? 
My advice for young women and girls interested in a career like mine is to work smart and take advantage of opportunities to advance. Focus on the skills that make you unique and to keep trying to improve on weaker skills. Another important piece of advice is to make and sustain connections; never underestimate the power of a solid professional network. A vast majority of the connections I made through the course of my academic career continue to support and mentor me until now. Talk to people about the jobs you think you might be interested in. People are very open to talk to young talented people. 

What are your thoughts on women only make up a third of STEM workforce and studies?
There are several key factors that I believe perpetuate the gender gap in the STEM workforce. First, it is important to avoid stereotypes that portray STEM fields as masculine. Girls should be given the skills and confidence to succeed in STEM at a young age. They should be given equitable encouragement and introduced to educational opportunities to create an interest in STEM programs. It is also important to introduce strong and visible role models to inspire more women to pursue careers in STEM. Giving women equal opportunities to pursue and thrive in STEM careers helps narrow the gender pay gap, enhances women’s economic security, ensures a diverse and talented STEM workforce, and prevents biases in these fields. 

Who is a woman that inspires you and why?
I have been fortunate to encounter some amazing, brilliant women in my lifetime. However, the woman that inspires me is my incredible mother. My mother is my hero. She is a phenomenal, hardworking, trustworthy and a very intelligent woman. She has taught me more than I could have ever learned from a book. She is an inspiring example for me, teaching me how to live life and make wise choices, even in the most uncertain of situations. My mother’s selflessness is second to none. She has so much love to give, and her strength is something I often tap from. 

Tell us a little about yourself – a fun fact, a personal hobby.
When I’m not working, I enjoy traveling. Traveling allows me to adapt to new situations and use my organization and planning skills to ensure I have the most fun I can. I also love learning about new places, cultures, and people. There’s so much to see in the world and I am determined to see as much of it as I can.