Meet the Experts

Think you might be interested in a career in science? The scientists, engineers, and other professionals featured here collect the data, develop the tools, and research the questions that are behind the activities in NOVA Labs.

  • Michelle Borkin

    Michelle Borkin | Interdisciplinary Scientist, Harvard

    I work across multiple disciplines to create new ways for scientists to visualize and explore their data.

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    High School Activities:
    Theater, Choir, Photography, Field Hockey
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Harvard University, Astronomy and Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Harvard University, Ph.D. (candidate), Applied Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Creativity, an understanding of physics and math, programming experience, writing skills, and communication skills

    I co-founded the “Astronomical Medicine” project at Harvard and collaborate with both astronomers and doctors to help analyze and visualize their data. I work to use visualization and analysis techniques across scientific disciplines. Most recently, I have collaborated with computational physicists, computer scientists, radiologists, and cardiologists to visualize blood flow simulation data and compare that with real medical imaging data to diagnose and treat heart disease.

    I am also a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and was chosen by TED as a TEDGlobal 2009 Fellow.

    My Advice: The most important advice I could give, based on my own scientific career, is to not be afraid to be creative or think “outside the box” and to follow your passions both inside and outside of science—don't be afraid to mix them up! For example, my passion for art helps me in scientific visualization and my passion for performance helps me in presenting my research to the public.

    Borkin speaking about her work at Harvard

    http://www.seas.harvard.edu/~borkin/

    http://www.ted.com/talks/michelle_borkin_can_astronomers_...

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  • Phillip Chamberlin

    Phillip Chamberlin | Solar Scientist, NASA Goddard

    I study how the Sun changes due to an 11-year solar cycle, and how these changes affect Earth and Mars.

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    High School Activities:
    Football, Tennis, Basketball, French Club, Volleyball, Backpacking, Camping, Guitar, Rugby
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Hanover College, Hanover, IN, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Colorado, Boulder, Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    An understanding of physics and all areas of math, writing skills, programming experience, engineering experience

    I am a research astrophysicist at the Solar Physics Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. My research focuses primarily on measuring and modeling the solar X-ray and ultraviolet irradiance. I have worked on six sounding rocket payloads and the TIMED SEE and SDO EVE data analysis. The TIMED SEE project observed the Sun and Earth, recording the amount of electromagnetic radiation present on the Sun and how much of that reached Earth. I was also involved in the development of the GOES-R EXIS instruments (XRS and EUVS) and the detector for the SPICE instrument on Solar Orbiter, all of which aided in recording data about the Sun.

    I am currently the deputy project scientist for the Solar Dynamics Observatory. I have participated in many education and public outreach opportunities and am a collaborator on the NASA Heliophysics Education and Public Outreach Forum. I not only study data from spacecraft such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory, but I also design and build experiments to fly on satellites and sounding rockets.

    My Advice: I was never the smartest kid in my classes but I worked really hard, which was more important to getting where I am. Just work and study as hard as you can, and it will pay off with a really fun job!

    Chamberlin talking about his work at NASA

    http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/people/profile.cfm?Code=Chamb...

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  • Holly Gilbert

    Holly Gilbert | Solar Researcher, NASA

    I run the NASA GSFC Solar Physics Lab, supervising 18 people, while also researching eruptive solar phenomena.

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    High School Activities:
    Cello, Theater
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Colorado, Boulder, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Oslo, Norway, Ph.D., Theoretical Astrophysics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Communication skills (public speaking), writing skills, understanding of math (including calculus), and management experience

    Although I did my undergraduate work in physics, I knew fairly early on that I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I had always loved astronomy, even as a child. I started an internship at the High Altitude Observatory focusing on solar physics during my undergraduate years. That was where I fell in love with the Sun.

    After obtaining a bachelor's degree, I got a job as an associate scientist at the same place I was an intern. I then went on to get my Ph.D. and went to Rice University as a research scientist. After working at Rice for a couple of years, I came to NASA as the associate director for science of the Heliophysics Science Division. In late 2011, I moved into my current position of solar physics lab chief in the same division.

    My Advice: Don't be afraid to take risks, and try to find a great mentor. Take advantage of any opportunities, including those that involve talking to senior-level colleagues.

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  • Jack Ireland

    Jack Ireland | Solar Physicist, NASA Goddard

    I study the physics of the Sun and develop tools and resources to enable others to study it.

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    High School Activities:
    Rugby, Astronomy
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Glasgow, Scotland, Physics and Mathematics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Glasgow, Scotland, Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Writing skills, programming experience, and an understanding of physics, mathematics, and statistics
    I was born in Hamilton, Scotland. I remember being told at school that there were three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. But I had read somewhere that there was a fourth state of matter called plasma. So I was kind of curious as to why the teacher never told us about it. I found out more about plasmas at the school astronomy club and learned that the Sun is a big ball of plasma, as are most other stars. I studied more astronomy at university. After that, I worked at the University of St. Andrews and became fascinated by the Sun. I had the opportunity to work at Goddard Space Flight Center and I was very keen to go. (Bio from Sun|trek)

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  • Sean McKillop

    Sean McKillop | Support Scientist, Harvard

    As a support scientist, I am working on building a rocket that will take pictures of the Sun. I also work on 3-D modeling of solar magnetic fields.

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    High School Activities:
    Model Building, PEZ Collection, Boy Scouts
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Maryland–College Park, Astronomy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Programming experience, data analysis, patience

    I fell in love with science when I started watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, and I fell in love with astronomy when I watched Carl Sagan's The Cosmos. So when I started my undergraduate career, I of course majored in... biology! I liked bio, but taking an introductory astro class made me remember my one true love. I've worked in the field ever since then.

    When I was an undergraduate at UMD, I got a job in the magnetometer group at Goddard Space Flight Center. Getting this job was a big deal and it has opened up other opportunities to me. In this group, I assisted in building and testing the two magnetometers that are on the Juno spacecraft, which is now on its way to Jupiter. After Juno launched last year, I briefly worked as a junior parts engineer at Goddard, working on three other space flight projects. After this, I ended up at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (where I am now), studying the Sun and working on an awesome-sounding rocket program! Each experience has been new and exciting and I can't believe I get to do this stuff for a living.

    My Advice: Work hard and keep at it. Spend as much time as necessary to learn new concepts.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

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  • Sophia Mitchell

    Sophia Mitchell | Aerospace Engineering Student

    As a student, I’ve been able to do research on everything from robotic systems to distant galaxies and solar flares.

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    High School Activities:
    Pilot License, Science Fair, Science Olympiad, Mountaineering, Diving Team, Horseback Riding, Volunteer Work
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Cincinnati, Aerospace Engineering
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Programming experience, an understanding of physics, calculus, and mechanics; logic, writing skills, and a lot of curiosity.

    I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Since I was about six years old, I have aspired to be an astronaut. Motivated by this goal, I began research in middle school while also taking flying lessons to get my pilot license. Through middle and high school, I participated in several science activities, such as Science Olympiad and science fairs, and continued to do research. My main interests have evolved from heliophysics to astrophysics to intelligent robotics. However, I really love anything having to do with space.

    Aside from science, I am a distance runner, slight history buff, and love music, animals, and cooking. I have been riding horses since a young age and will go riding whenever the chance presents itself. I am also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, where I survived a month-long course in Alaskan mountaineering. I love adventure, and I am a strong believer that people achieve the most when they're happy, healthy, and having fun!

    My Advice: Don't be afraid to ask questions, introduce yourself to people, knock on office doors, and be proactive. Getting into research early allows you time to figure out your interests and see what kind of work environment you prefer. Through knowing yourself in this way, you can put yourself in a position where school and work feel like play.

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  • Fana Mulu-Moore

    Fana Mulu-Moore | Postdoctoral Researcher, NASA

    I use data and simulations to study why the solar atmosphere is hotter than the solar surface.

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    High School Activities:
    Student Government, Science Olympiad, Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, Track
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Alabama A&M University, Bachelor's Degree, Physics and Space Science
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Alabama A&M University, Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Programming skills, writing skills (especially writing proposals and scientific papers), and verbal communication skills

    Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I came to the United States to attend college at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL. There are very limited higher education opportunities in Ethiopia in the sciences, especially for women. I always loved the sciences and math, so I decided to major in physics, with a focus in space science. At that time, Alabama A&M was one of the few HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) that had a space science concentration in its physics department.

    During my undergraduate years, I was very active in our Society of Physics Students chapter; I served as president my senior year. I also participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates summer programs every year and attended the National Society of Black Physicists annual conferences.

    I decided to stay at Alabama A&M in order to work with Dr. Amy Winebarger on my Ph.D. in physics. My dissertation on solar coronal loops won the best dissertation award by the HBCU graduate program council. I am now in the NASA postdoctoral program working with the solar physics group at Marshall Space Flight. After a 12-week maternity leave, I will begin my second year.

    My Advice: The most cliché advice is to work hard, but it's definitely true. Always work hard and make a great impression. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you, such as conferences, internships, and summer programs. For college students in STEM, there are several Summer REU (research experience for undergraduate) programs that are excellent. Participating in these competitive programs is a great way to make contacts, which are crucial when applying to graduate school or jobs, and to determine what specific areas in the field are most suited for you. There are many summer programs for high school students as well.

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  • Kathy Reeves

    Kathy Reeves | Solar Researcher, Harvard

    I analyze images of the Sun in search of clues about how energy is dissipated during solar flares.

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    High School Activities:
    Dance, Band (Flute)
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Reed College, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of New Hampshire, Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Computer programming experience, thorough understanding of calculus, writing skills, public speaking skills.

    I grew up in suburban Denver and took physics in high school. I never really pictured myself as a scientist during high school but the summer before I went to college, my dad's cousin suggested to me that I should try majoring in physics. He made the point that physics was a major that had a lot of class requirements and if I started out as a physics major, I could always switch to something else later if I didn't like it. So I majored in physics and totally loved it. From there, I got a master's in physics with a concentration in optics at Northeastern University, and eventually went on to get my Ph.D. in physics at the University of New Hampshire. Now I am a solar physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It is a fantastic job!

    My Advice: My advice to students just starting their careers in science is to find something that you are passionate about and study that. Also, don't be afraid to fail. Sometimes the only way to find out what you are good at and what you are not is to try, so do not let the fear of failure keep you from trying anything.

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  • Martha Wawro

    Martha Wawro | Project Manager, NASA SDO Education & Public Outreach

    As an education and outreach lead for NASA, I bring the wonders and science of the Sun to the public.

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    High School Activities:
    Swimming, Volleyball, Music, Theatre

    My professional background is in education and management. In high school, I was in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program with a focus in chemistry, while also taking higher-level IB classes in history and English. After graduating high school, I studied abroad at a college preparatory school in the Czech Republic for one year on a Rotary Exchange scholarship. In college, I was a biochemistry and Russian studies major because I also enjoyed Russian literature and language.

    Prior to my work at NASA, I worked in the Republic of Georgia as a community development and education specialist in the United States Peace Corps. In this position, I worked closely with both my Georgian counterparts and local nongovernment and business organizations to design and implement a variety of projects including camps for kids, language lessons for adults, community environmental projects, educational improvement projects, and the development of an education and medical therapy center.

    I'm now working toward my master's of science in project management. With this background, I'll have skills in communication, writing, project planning, and evaluation as well as experience in science-based analysis and research.

    My Advice: It is possible to do real science very early in your high school or college career. NASA accepts both high school and undergraduate interns, but there are also always professors looking for students to help out in their research. Also, science is a field that takes hard work and perseverance; don't ever let someone tell you that you aren't smart enough to be a scientist. If science is something that you enjoy and are willing to work hard at, you will find your place in the field.

    http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

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  • Stephen Connors

    Stephen Connors | Director, AGREA

    I do research to help places like New England and China decide how much, when, and where they can use renewable energy.

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    High School Activities:
    Was interested in nature and the environment and how technologies work
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Anthropology and Mechanical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S., Technology and Policy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Experience with energy modeling, computer graphics, and the ability to understand and communicate complex problems

    I direct the Analysis Group for Regional Energy Alternatives (AGREA) at the MIT Energy Initiative. AGREA does research that identifies cost-effective and environmentally responsible local and regional energy solutions. Projects in the United States, Europe, Mexico, China, and elsewhere have focused on the cost and emissions benefits of renewable energy, smart grids, energy storage, and sustainable mobility. In addition to my research at MIT, I also assist many groups, including the New England Clean Energy Council, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and AltWheels. I am a board member of the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative and a reviewer for numerous scientific journals, including Wind Engineering. I was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa, working on the design and testing of wood-conserving cook stoves.

    My Advice: When deciding what to study, keep in mind that the most interesting and challenging topics are both quantitative and qualitative. Also, be aware that many interesting multidisciplinary problems, like the environment and clean energy, require you to have multiple and varied skills.

    http://www.web.mit.edu/mitei

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  • Katherine He

    Katherine He | Sustainable Transportation Associate

    I support sustainable transportation initiatives by encouraging businesses to provide travel alternatives for their employees.

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    High School Activities:
    Orchestra, Badminton, Cross Country, Cheerleading, Community Service, Chinese Ethnic Dance, Ballroom Dance, French Club
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of California, Berkeley, Environmental Sciences and French double major with a minor in Energy and Resources
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Science communication experience, writing skills, math skills, and project management experience

    I started exploring energy sciences through a research position at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, where I looked at renewable energy funding. Then I joined the Bay-Area Environmentally Aware Consulting Network (BEACN), where I helped local organizations solve environmental problems. These experiences led me to a summer internship with the Environmental Protection Agency, where I helped clean up hazardous waste sites in the San Francisco Bay area. More recently, I worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where I processed soil samples for a 10-year study of carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. This past summer, I did an eight-week internship in the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, through the Cal Energy Corps Program. I wrote a Matlab program that calculates the carbon footprint of microgrid installations.

    In addition to doing a bunch of research, I’ve also been learning how to teach science. I’ve taught as an organic chemistry teaching assistant at UC Berkeley and as an MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) instructor for Kaplan Test Prep.

    I am currently working through an 11-month AmeriCorps program at a local government agency as a “sustainable transportation associate.” My tasks vary every day. Some days, I make maps using ArcGIS. Some days, I plan outreach events or analyze surveys. And other days, I test drive different models of electric vehicles.

    In the future, I hope to become an instructor and communicator in energy sciences—part college professor, part Bill Nye the Science Guy.

    My Advice: Don't be afraid to ask simple questions. Often, the most basic principles are the hardest to explain, let alone understand. Challenge your teachers by asking them these types of questions!

    Also, know your basics. Be patient and take the time to learn all the fundamental stuff backwards, forwards, and sideways. It will pay off. You will be surprised at how many mysterious phenomena can be explained by simple elemental properties.

    https://www.acgov.org/gsa/

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  • Michael Kuss

    Michael Kuss | Electric Vehicle Research Engineer

    I make experimental power systems and electronics for electric vehicle charging stations.

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    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, B.S., Engineering Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Colorado Boulder, M.S., Electrical Engineering
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Computer programming experience, circuit design, good writing skills, and artistic talent to simplify and clarify drawings

    I work with a team of engineers to design and modify vehicle-to-grid-capable vehicles to support renewable energy on the power grid. I have worked with grid operators and facility owners across the United States and Pacific to quantify the monetary value of plug-in vehicles beyond reducing petroleum use. I currently work with a consortium of U.S. manufacturers on implementing the North American direct current charging standard, which will allow most plug-in vehicles to charge in under 30 minutes. This work will also enable microgrids to utilize plug-in vehicles as energy storage devices in resource-constrained situations, such as in emergencies or on small islands. In my free time, I resurrect and convert old vehicles to electric, teach yoga, and participate in SAE's student competitions.

    My Advice: Don’t sell out for money, and don’t sell yourself short! Do what you love, even if doesn't pay as much—you'll be way happier! If you're still in high school and looking at colleges, know that most accredited undergrad science and engineering programs are very similar, so go to school where you can get scholarships and afford it!

    http://www.ct.com/entertainment/green-wheels/nm-ht18wheel...

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9215661/Car_tech_E...

    http://www.nrel.gov/

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  • Niall Mangan

    Niall Mangan | Ph.D. Candidate

    I build mathematical models to design new methods for producing biofuels and solar energy.

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    High School Activities:
    Theater, Choir, Swimming, National Ocean Science Bowl
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Clarkson University, Mathematics and Physics, Chemistry Minor
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Harvard University, Ph.D., Systems Biology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Understanding of calculus, differential equations, and physics, computer programming, writing, and public speaking

    I grew up in McAllen, TX, which is very close to the boarder with Mexico. I became interested in science because I enjoyed puzzles and problem solving. I hated math in elementary school when it was all about definitions, but loved it as soon as it became about understanding patterns and solving puzzles. Now I find science exciting because research is how we discover new knowledge about our world. The idea of figuring out something new, or understanding something that has never been understood before, is very powerful and meaningful to me.

    In high school I took as many math and science classes as I could, and in college I studied math, physics, and chemistry. Starting in high school and throughout college, I found ways to get involved with research. The experience of being involved in research and actually “doing” research early on really helped me when I applied for graduate school.

    Now at Harvard, I use mathematics to describe how bacteria transform sunlight and carbon dioxide into chemical energy that we can use for fuel. The mathematical models or descriptions help us better understand what the bacteria are doing and how we can actually use them. I use the computer to model the problems and also to solve them analytically. (This means figuring out how to write an equation like y = a*x +b which describes the behavior of some system and solves a problem.) I am also interested in figuring out how plants turn sunlight into chemical energy and how to build better solar cells using new materials.

    My Advice Reading about ideas outside of my field of study often gives me new ways of thinking about my work. You should learn about things you are excited about from all areas of science, math, and even world news!

    http://sysbiophd.harvard.edu/

    https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/sitnflash_wp/2011/08/issue99/

    http://theenergycollective.com/niallmm/55716/jeffrey-sach...

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  • Briana Mordick

    Briana Mordick | Geologist

    I work as an advisor to bridge the gap between science and policy on issues related to the environmental impacts of oil and natural gas extraction.

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    High School Activities:
    Theater, Student Government
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Boston University, Earth Sciences
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.S., Geological Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A thorough knowledge of petroleum geology, oil and gas production operations, and excellent communication skills

    After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I took a three-month internship with Anadarko Petroleum, working on a project involving shale gas. Upon completing my internship, I accepted a full-time position and worked for Anadarko Petroleum for six years as a petroleum geologist on projects including tight gas sands and CO2-enhanced oil recovery. I left Anadarko in the fall of 2010 to take a position as a science fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council, working as a technical advisor on issues related to oil and natural gas extraction and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide. At the completion of my fellowship, I accepted a full-time staff scientist position with NRDC, continuing my work to identify and advocate for solutions to reduce the environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction.

    My Advice: Do what you love. It may be a cliché, but it’s true! And don’t be afraid to try something new. You could fall in love with a subject you’ve never studied before. When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be an astrophysicist—until I took my first geology class.

    Briana Mordick discusses natural gas fracking and the risk of earthquakes

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bmordick/

    http://www.nrdc.org/

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  • Matthew Pearlson

    Matthew Pearlson | Renewable Fuels Researcher

    I research the costs and greenhouse gases associated with producing renewable fuels.

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    High School Activities:
    Cross Country Running, Track and Field, Student Government, Painting, and Ceramics
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Massachusetts Amherst, B.S., Chemical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S., Technology and Policy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Analytical skills, data analysis experience, and the ability to work as part of a team

    I studied chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. During my summer, I worked on various alternative and renewable fuel technologies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at MIT. After graduation, I moved to Seattle and worked for Microsoft to make Windows 7 software more energy efficient. In 2009, I moved to Boston to work on my graduate degree at MIT, where I research renewable jet fuels. In my spare time, I enjoy running, cycling, and puzzles.

    My Advice: Don't be afraid to try new things, and make sure to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

    http://www.lae.mit.edu/

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  • Christoph Reinhart

    Christoph Reinhart | Associate Professor in Building Technology

    I work as a building scientist and an architectural educator in sustainable building design and environmental modeling.

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    High School Activities:
    Volleyball, Rowing, Tennis
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet, Freiburg, Germany, M.Sc., Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Technical University of Karlsruhe, Doctorate, Architecture
    To Do My Job You Need:
    An understanding of mathematics and physics, programming experience, the ability to script a graphical user interface

    I initially studied semiconductor physics and solar cells, since I wanted to help society make more use of renewable energy sources. After completing my M.Sc., I realized that decisions to implement environmental technologies in buildings are part of a much wider debate that includes multiple aspects, from design aesthetics and economics, to user acceptability of various technologies. This realization initially triggered my interest in architecture and design. I spent the first decade of my professional life working in government labs in Germany and Canada conducting basic building science research. I then became more interested in teaching and further disseminating the results of my work, which got me to teaching, initially at McGill and Harvard, and now at MIT. Today, I greatly enjoy teaching building science to architects and developing design workflows and methods that help designers and urban planners develop more energy-efficient buildings and neighborhoods.

    My Advice: I can only echo what others have probably told you already: pick a field that you genuinely enjoy because you are good at it, the topic interests you, and because your work has a positive impact on the planet and/or the life of others. Many careers in science remain engaging for a lifetime since the problems keep evolving as you and others solve them.

    http://www.mit.edu/

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  • Mariko Shirazi

    Mariko Shirazi | Electrical Engineer

    I work on the integration of distributed energy resources (DER), including renewable energy resources, onto the power grid.

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    High School Activities:
    Worked at a horse stable and ran cross-country for one year
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Alaska Fairbanks, B.S., Mechanical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Colorado Boulder, M.S. and Ph.D., Electrical Engineering
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Troubleshooting skills, analysis and design experience of power electronic circuits, and an understanding of linear systems

    It took me 10 years and three different institutions to complete my bachelor’s degree. During this time, I spent eight seasons working for the Forest Service as a wilderness guard/ranger in Oregon and Idaho; another season working for the Park Service as a park ranger in Alaska; and one year working for a sled dog musher as a dog handler in Alaska. In between, I attended the University of Oregon, the University of Idaho, and finally graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks with a degree in mechanical engineering.

    Following graduation, I worked for eight years at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), where I was involved in the design and deployment of hybrid wind-diesel power systems for remote village power applications. I left NREL to attend graduate school in electrical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a focus on power electronics and, specifically, system identification and auto-tuning of digitally controlled switched mode power supplies. After receiving my Ph.D., I returned to work at NREL, this time in the Distributed Systems Integration Group, to continue work not only on stand-alone hybrid power systems incorporating renewable energy, but also integration of distributed energy resources onto the national grid.

    My Advice: Take the time to explore ideas you find exciting, even if you feel like you're not an expert in the area.

    Mariko Shirazi:
    Mariko kayaking with her dog

    Courtesy of Mariko Shirazi

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  • Caleb Waugh

    Caleb Waugh | Ph.D. Candidate

    As part of my research, I evaluate the potential of air pollution policies for reducing carbon emissions.

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    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Brigham Young University, Electrical Engineering and Philosophy
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., Nuclear Engineering; Master's Degree, Technology and Policy
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Mathematics, circuit design, physics, economics, familiarity with Mathematica and Matlab, and programming experience

    As an undergraduate majoring in electrical engineering and philosophy, I spent summers working with the High-Energy-Density Physics Division at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM, on multiple projects in support of inertial confinement fusion. With an interest in energy and looking to develop a broader understanding of the socioeconomic and environmental considerations related to energy systems, I enrolled as a master's student in the MIT Technology and Policy Program, working with the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

    With the Joint Program, I explored the potential that air pollution and carbon policies have for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions under a variety of policy and cost scenarios, and how policy affects the electricity generation mix. Also passionate about the possibility of high-risk/high-reward technologies, my Ph.D. work with the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center aims to create the high-temperature, high-density environments needed to reproduce thermonuclear fusion in a laboratory. Our hope is to bring the power of the Sun to Earth. My long-term career goals include contributing to the realization of a sustainable energy future that is informed by the best available science, economics, policy, and business strategies.

    My Advice: Never stop learning and never shy away from a challenge. Working through challenges is the price one pays for rewarding experiences.

    http://spectrum.mit.edu/articles/normal/the-power-generat...

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/caleb-waugh/12/b10/124

    https://lasers.llnl.gov/

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  • Shannon Zareh

    Shannon Zareh | Research Scientist

    I work on a variety of physics and engineering-related problems at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

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    High School Activities:
    Piano, Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Basketball
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Tehran, Iran,
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Washington University in St. Louis, Master's and Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A thorough understanding of math and physics, computer programming skills, and excellent writing and public speaking skills

    I moved to the United States in 2005 and started my graduate program in physics at Washington University in St. Louis. I was born in Tehran, Iran, where I completed my high school and undergraduate education. Throughout my childhood, I was fascinated by the sky, outer space, the complexity of living beings, and life on Earth. I loved to learn about what others considered impossible. All of this got me interested in studying space sciences and specifically physics—basically the laws of nature.

    In college, my friends and I would go to the outskirts of the city where there was no light pollution to watch the meteor showers and the Milky Way. After college, I continued my physics studies in Master's and Ph.D. programs, where I did some research in both astrophysics and biophysics. For me, physics was a window through which I could better understand the world. I am glad that I chose to become a physicist! Now, I am working on studying the impact of wind turbines on radar technology, and looking forward to the future and learning more about the world around us.

    My Advice: First, pick a topic that you enjoy and start reading some articles about it. Second, take advantage of your local science museum! They usually have very cool demos and scientist staff to explain them. Finally, there are a lot of great scientific podcasts out there these days that you can download and listen to when you have some time (like on a long car ride, or during the weekends, etc.) A couple podcasts that I enjoy and recommend are Science Friday and Radiolab (links below).

    http://www.ll.mit.edu/

    http://sciencefriday.com/

    http://www.radiolab.org/

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  • Karin Ardon-Dryer

    Karin Ardon-Dryer | Postdoctoral Researcher, MIT

    I am building a chamber that will help us better understand how ice crystals are created in clouds.

    [+] MORE

    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Ben Gurion University, Environmental Studies
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Tel Aviv University, Ph.D., Cloud Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    An understanding of chemistry, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, and cloud physics; writing and public speaking skills

    I was always fascinated by nature, and even as a kid I wanted to know how things such as mountains, rivers, and clouds were created. This is what led me to my undergrad studies in the Department of Geography and Environmental Development at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Right after my undergraduate studies, I began studying for my master's degree in the same department. In my master's program at the Earth and Planetary Image Facility (EPIF), I studied the dynamics of Nebkas—mini dunes on top of sand dunes—using remote sensing technologies.

    For my Ph.D. program, I moved to the Department of Geophysics, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University, where I studied cloud physics. In my Ph.D. program, I worked on ice nuclei (IN) particles. These particles are required for the formation of ice in clouds, which can lead to the development of snow, rain, sleet, and hail. Using an instrument called the FRIDGE-TAU in collaboration with Frankfurt University, we sampled aerosol particles at different meteorological conditions, pollution levels, and sources in order to understand how they affect Ice nuclei concentration and precipitation.

    My Advice: Study things that interest you, things that will make you want to go to class every day to learn more new things. Believe in yourself even if you are told you are not capable of doing something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or learn new things.

    http://eaps-www.mit.edu/paoc/people/karin-ardon-dryer

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  • Dan Cziczo

    Dan Cziczo | Atmospheric Scientist, MIT

    I study aerosols, small particles suspended in the atmosphere, and I am interested in how these particles interact with water vapor to form clouds.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Flying, Swimming, Hiking, Backpacking
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Illinois, Aerospace Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Chicago, Ph.D., Geophysical Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Engineering skills, including computer-aided design and computational fluid dynamics modeling; writing and public speaking

    I’m an atmospheric scientist interested in how particles in the atmosphere influence cloud formation. I started my career as an aerospace engineer. And I used these engineering skills during my graduate work in Earth sciences to design and build the instruments that my research group and I use in the laboratory and field.

    My research group focuses on understanding how small particles—many of which are produced by human activity—interact with water vapor to form cloud droplets and ice crystals, which are important players in precipitation and Earth’s climate system. Our experiments include using small cloud chambers in the laboratory to mimic atmospheric conditions that lead to cloud formation and observing clouds in the field from remote mountaintop sites or using research aircraft.

    My research group has interests beyond Earth's clouds and precipitation. We also study how meteors interact with the Earth's upper atmosphere and how clouds form around other planets, such as Venus and Mars.

    My Advice: Challenge yourself. Find a good program that you are interested in and get your degree. You can come from any one of a variety of backgrounds, especially in interdisciplinary fields like Atmospheric Science, but the important part is having a solid foundation in math, physics, chemistry, and engineering. Our research group has engineers, chemists, and Earth scientists. The common theme is a solid foundation of learning, not a specific program or path.

    http://eapsweb.mit.edu/people/djcziczo

    http://techtv.mit.edu/videos/e51a577104618761922f775b0eb2...

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  • Sarvesh Garimella

    Sarvesh Garimella | Graduate Student, MIT

    I run experiments in the lab to try to understand how particles in the atmosphere affect Earth's climate through the formation of clouds.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Science Club, Band, National Ocean Sciences Bowl, Academic Bowl, Track and Field, Volunteering
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    California Institute of Technology, Planetary Sciences and Environmental Science and Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D. (Candidate), Climate Physics and Chemistry
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A background in physics, chemistry, and math; data analysis and computer programming experience; problem-solving skills

    I spent my elementary school years in small town in Iowa and moved to Athens, Georgia, for middle school and high school. Growing up, I was always interested in science, especially in aeronautics and space sciences. I participated in various science activities and competitions during grade school, which exposed me to a number of interesting scientific areas.

    In college, I decided to study various aspects of the Earth sciences, eventually earning degrees in two areas of study. Along the way, I worked as an undergraduate researcher in mineralogy, oceanography, and atmospheric sciences; I found the topic of climate change to be a particularly challenging and interesting one. In my senior year, I began working on modeling aerosol and cloud interactions, the topic I eventually chose to pursue in my graduate work.

    In grad school, I have been using laboratory experiments to investigate how particles and clouds affect the climate system, since the role of these interactions is the most uncertain factor in predicting climate change. I have the chance to perform experiments in the laboratory that can provide significant insight into these processes and help increase the accuracy of future climate predictions.

    My Advice: Explore and learn about many different fields in science. This exploration will help you discover new interesting topics and fuel your curiosity. Who knows? You may end up with a career in an area you haven't really considered yet.

    http://eaps-www.mit.edu/paoc/people/sarvesh-garimella

    http://eapsweb.mit.edu/news/2013/secret-lives-researchers...

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  • Nick Guy

    Nick Guy | Research Meteorologist, NOAA

    I study the physical processes at work in clouds and precipitation from single thunderstorms to hurricane-size storms.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Football, Track and Field, Concert Band, Outdoor Activities
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Earlham College, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Colorado State University, Ph.D., Atmospheric Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A knowledge of meteorology, physics, mathematics, and computer programming; the ability to work in collaboration with others

    I knew I wanted to study science after college, but couldn't decide what area. I worked in laser engineering for a few years and then went back to school to study meteorology. My research project for graduate school was based on the West African monsoon, which opened my eyes to weather around the world and helped me realize that everyone is impacted by the weather. My focus is on the use of remote sensing (looking at weather events with various instruments) to study the weather. Specifically, weather radar is the main source of data for my work. Data collection is extremely important in this field, and I have been lucky to be a radar scientist in organized field experiments in Oklahoma and the Indian Ocean, helping provide data for other scientists.

    I am now a postdoctoral researcher at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, studying thunderstorms that occur in the Indian Ocean as part of a phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which ends up modifying weather around the world. I love coming to work every day and am excited to continue to learn more about the weather!

    My Advice: Work hard at learning the fundamentals and have fun!

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  • Brian Kahn

    Brian Kahn | Atmospheric Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    I use satellites to observe clouds, temperature, and water vapor in Earth's atmosphere to understand past, present, and future climate.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Parties, Hanging Out with Friends, Spending Time Outdoors, Being a Weather Nerd
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    San Jose University, Meteorology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of California-Los Angeles, Ph.D., Atmospheric Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Math, communication, and computer skills; a willingness to read and write prolifically; an ability to think outside the box

    I’m a staff scientist working most closely with the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. My research interests focus on the remote sensing of clouds, temperature, and water vapor and the synthesis of data from multiple satellite instrument platforms to understand cloud-related processes. These data are then applied to scientific problems regarding the observation and modeling of present and future climate for different regions and at various time scales.

    My Advice: Follow your ambitions. Definitely try to find out what interests you most. Don't be afraid of math and science.

    http://science.jpl.nasa.gov/people/BKahn/

    http://climate2.jpl.nasa.gov/eswSite/blogs/?FuseAction=Sh...

    http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/story_archive/Turbulent_Nature_o...

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  • Wolfgang Langhans

    Wolfgang Langhans | Postdoctoral Researcher, Berkeley Lab

    I improve weather and climate models by studying deep convective clouds.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Snowboarding, Surfing, Mountain Biking, Playing Drums
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Innsbruck, Meteorology and Geophysics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    ETH Zurich, Ph.D., Atmospheric Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Passion, a math and physics background, programming skills, scientific writing skills, patience

    I grew up in the Bavarian countryside. It didn't take me very long to learn to appreciate the value of being outdoors and having lakes, woods, and the Alps nearby. Besides that, I was good in math and physics in high school, mainly because I enjoyed it. It is this combination of interests that made me think of studying meteorology and geophysics, which I later did in Innsbruck, Austria. It turned out to be the right choice. I became hooked on theoretical meteorology and numerical modeling of weather phenomena, particularly clouds. That is, I studied how we can use computers and the basic laws of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics to describe and predict the formation of clouds and precipitation. I graduated with a Ph.D. from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. My current research focuses on fundamental properties of clouds, such as their efficiency to produce rain or their dilution by cloud-free air.

    My Advice: Do whatever you are interested in most: focus and specialize in that area. Know the relevant literature. Set yourself ambitious goals for yourself. Challenge yourself. Being passionate is key; the rest is mostly a consequence.

    http://esd.lbl.gov/about/staff/wolfganglanghans/

    http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2013/03/13/scie...

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  • Mayra Oyola

    Mayra Oyola | Research Assistant, Howard University

    I study the physical processes leading to the formation and transport of aerosols and gases in the atmosphere to assess their impacts on weather.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    American Red Cross Volunteer, School Council, Theater, Writing, Hurricane Preparedness Club, Tae Kwon Do, Band
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez Campus, Theoretical Physics Major with Minor in Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Howard University, Ph.D. (Candidate), Atmospheric Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    An understanding of chemistry, math, and computing; communication and analytical skills; the willingness to be a team player

    I am a Ph.D. candidate and a doctoral fellow under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Howard University. I study the physical properties of atmospheric gases and aerosols. Aerosols are small particles suspended in the atmosphere that can be produced naturally (i.e.,terrestrial dust traveling from regions like the Saharan Desert) or can be anthropogenic (i.e.,pollution). Both can have tremendous impacts on weather, particularly on cloud formation, hurricane development, and climate change.

    In order to understand weather and atmospheric constituents, we need observations of the Earth-atmosphere system. My job involves improving satellites data retrievals, especially over hurricane development areas that have a high concentration of aerosols. Field data like this is critical for calibrating weather satellite observations, but it is difficult to gather over the ocean. My job also involves going out to sea once a year, traveling from the United States to the coast of Africa, to obtain surface and atmospheric measurements.

    These field campaigns are part of a program called the Aerosols and Ocean Science Expeditions (AEROSE) and are conducted onboard the NOAA research vessel Ronald H. Brown. AEROSE allows us to learn about the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere and improve weather satellites and forecast models.

    My Advice: Ask questions. Get involved outside of the classroom. Participate in extracurricular projects, apply for internships, volunteer at a local office. Read—and read a LOT! Most importantly, truly enjoy the learning process and don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

    http://www.aerose.org/

    http://ncas.howard.edu/

    http://www.howard.edu/

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  • Angela Rowe

    Angela Rowe | Research Associate, University of Washington

    I use radar technology to study cloud processes in mountainous regions and the tropics.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Marching and Concert Band, Basketball, French club, National Honor Society
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Millersville University, Meteorology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Colorado State University, M.S. and Ph.D., Atmospheric Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A knowledge of computer programming, creativity, an understanding of calculus and other advanced math

    As a child, I was fascinated by the weather. During high school, I participated in an internship program where I shadowed a local on-air meteorologist and learned that I was more interested in figuring out how the atmosphere works than I was in standing in front of a green screen. This led me to pursue meteorology at Millersville University. There, I tried out many aspects of the field, from forecasting for the Campus Weather Service and engaging in outreach activities to standing outside in the cold for a research project. When I interned at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, I not only learned that research was the path for me, but I also fell in love with radar.

    Graduate school at CSU offered a wealth of opportunities that increased my passion. The experiences of studying rain in the mountains of Taiwan to scanning clouds from a ship in the Indian Ocean have expanded my view of the field from the local thunderstorms that fascinated me as a child to the global impacts of weather. I enjoy using radar as a tool to understand these processes and to spread this knowledge and the excitement of weather to all those I encounter.

    My Advice: Learn to be self-motivated and make sure you are passionate about what you are studying. There can be bumps in the road, be they coding frustrations, the peer-review process, or communication, but it’s important to be able to move past these experiences and learn from them.

    http://www.facebook.com/CommunityCloudAtlas

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  • Jacob Seeley

    Jacob Seeley | Graduate Student, UC-Berkeley

    I study how global climate models represent such phenomena as clouds and severe convective weather.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Soccer (Captain Jr., Sr. Years), Editor of School's Creative Writing Publication
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Haverford College, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. (Candidate), Earth and Planetary Sciences
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Computer programming experience, knowledge of math and physics (especially thermodynamics and fluid mechanics)

    While in college, I did research in quantum physics. The first project I was involved in, through an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at the University of Illinois, explored the behavior of crystals under extreme conditions: low temperatures, high pressures, and strong magnetic fields. Then, in my senior thesis at Haverford, I developed a new way of using quantum computers to simulate the electrons in molecules. The research I did as an undergrad was fascinating, but for my Ph.D., I wanted to apply my skills in physics, math, and computer programming to work on what I see as the greatest challenge of our generation: understanding and confronting anthropogenic climate change. That is why I joined David Romps' group at UC Berkeley. Our group uses physics to study clouds and their role in the larger climate system.

    My Advice: Trust your curiosity.

    http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=236838605

    http://romps.berkeley.edu/

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  • Stirling  Churchman

    Stirling Churchman | Researcher, Harvard Medical School

    I run a research group that studies how genes in DNA are turned on through the production of RNA from DNA by the cellular machine RNA polymerase.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Ice Hockey, Bicycling, Theater
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Cornell University, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Stanford University, Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Knowledge of molecular biology, chemistry, and physics; basic computer programming skills; comfort with mathematics

    After enjoying math and physics in high school, I decided to keep taking them in college. I really loved how elegantly math and physics could explain the world. I had multiple research experiences in college in galaxy formation, solar physics, and biophysics. Through this research and classes, I became fascinated with biology, especially large cellular machines. I wanted to understand how a very large molecule could be organized to do something so precise and essential for life. Despite my interest in biology, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in physics and do my thesis research in biochemistry. I studied a myosin motor protein that walks around cells, moving items to where they need to be. As a postdoctoral researcher, I began to study RNA polymerase that moves along DNA and copies it to RNA. My research group and I are continuing this work today.

    My Advice: There are all types of scientists, and there are many ways to become a scientist. Science thrives from diverse viewpoints, so don’t be afraid to try something new.

    http://churchman.med.harvard.edu/

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  • Rhiju Das

    Rhiju Das | Scientist, Stanford University School of Medicine

    My lab tries to understand how seemingly simple molecules like RNAs and proteins underlie life and disease.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Computer Games, Music
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Harvard University, Physics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Stanford University, Ph.D., Physics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Proficiency in computer programming, chemistry, physics and calculus; public speaking, writing, and team management skills

    I trained in particle physics and cosmology in college. Then, an encounter with the experimental 3D structure of the ribosome (the protein-making machine in all cells) led me to switch to molecular biophysics. My lab and I focus on creating computer models and experimental tools to predict how biological machines work and to design new ones. We are co-developers of the interactive puzzles in NOVA Labs' RNA Lab, which themselves come from an exciting project: the online game Eterna. This game crowd-sources cutting-edge experimental research in RNA nanotechnology to over 100,000 players.

    My Advice: Seek doable problems that challenge you and have you interacting with other students—through math competitions, creating videogames, and team science projects.

    http://daslab.stanford.edu/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/science/11rna.html?_r=1&

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/ff_rnagame

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  • Ella Hartenian

    Ella Hartenian | Research Associate, The Broad Institute

    I use mammalian cells to model diseases. By altering protein expression, we investigate disregulation and cellular response to drugs.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Soccer, Reading, Student Government
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Smith College, Environmental Biology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Wet lab (tissue culture and molecular biology) experience, knowledge of basic programming, and communication skills

    I first became interested in science in my junior year of high school in Arlington, MA, while taking AP biology and chemistry. In college, I pursued ecology because I thought I would hate being cooped up inside a lab working all by myself, but I still loved thinking about scientific questions. To my surprise, when I had the opportunity to try working in a bacteria lab in my last year of college, I loved it! I found that the lab work fit my multitasking personality and that I enjoyed the challenge of thinking about complex cellular processes. I moved from my lab at Smith College to Biogen Idec, where I worked as a summer intern developing assays to determine the purity of drugs at different stages of production. Wanting a more academic setting, I began my current job at the Broad Institute in the Genetic Perturbation Platform. I work as a technician in the R&D group developing tools and technology for other researchers at the institute to use. I am currently applying to graduate school to study molecular biology and am interested in pursuing questions about molecular evolution.

    My Advice: Ask lots of questions! When you don't understand something, don't feel shy to ask for clarification. Also, remember that science is huge! There are questions and areas to study for almost everyone. Don't worry if you don't like what you're currently learning or studying, there are many other interesting areas to pursue.

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  • Janet Iwasa

    Janet Iwasa | Biologist/Molecular Animator, University of Utah

    I’m interested in using animation to visualize and explore molecular hypotheses.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Band, Odyssey of the Mind Program, Crafts
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Williams College, Biology, Asian Studies
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of California–San Francisco, Ph.D., Cell Biology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    3D-animation experience, thorough understanding of molecular and cellular biology, great communication skills

    I’m currently a research assistant professor in the biochemistry department at the University of Utah. My broad goal is to create accurate and compelling molecular and cellular visualizations that will support research, learning, and scientific communication.

    My illustrations and animations have appeared in scientific journals including Nature, Science, and Cell as well as in the New York Times. They have also been featured on television and in museum exhibits. I was recently named a 2014 TED fellow and recognized as one of the “100 Most Creative People” of 2012 by Fast Company magazine.

    As a postdoctoral fellow, I created a multimedia exhibit with Nobel laureate Jack Szostak (Harvard University) and the Museum of Science, Boston. I later worked on biological visualizations as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. I received my Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of California, San Francisco, for my work on the actin cytoskeleton in the laboratory of Dyche Mullins. I completed 3D-animation training at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects later that same summer.

    My Advice: Explore different fields! Take English classes and learn how to write well. Take art classes and gain some confidence in your ability to draw, paint, etc. Take computer science classes and learn how to do some coding. All of these skills are going to help you if you end up going into science—or in your other endeavors in life!

    http://biochem.web.utah.edu/iwasa

    http://exploringorigins.org/

    http://onemicron.com/

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  • Mohini Jangi

    Mohini Jangi | Ph.D. Graduate, MIT

    I investigate how processing messenger RNAs in different ways impacts stem cell biology in normal development and in diseases such as cancer.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Painting, Dance
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Brandeis University, Biology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., Biology
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Knowledge of molecular biology and cell biology, computer programming skills, presentation and writing skills, creativity

    I study the mechanisms by which RNAs are processed to create mature messages. The particular variety of messenger RNAs within a given cell makes up that cell's transcriptome. The transcriptome is made up of many subsets of messenger RNAs that help define the function of a cell. Turning particular subsets, or networks of messages, on and off determines what an immature cell will become: a neuron, muscle cell, or skin cell, for example. The careful regulation of messenger RNA processing is important in normal human development as well as in diseases such as cancer.

    My Advice: Set realistic expectations. Don't be afraid to try something because it might not work and run with it wholeheartedly when it does.

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  • Joanne Kamens

    Joanne Kamens | Scientist Manager, Addgene

    I am the CEO of a cool science nonprofit. Addgene helps scientists around the world share a type of research material made of DNA called a plasmid.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Science Fiction, Synagogue Youth Group, Math Club
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Pennsylvania, Biology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Harvard University, Ph.D., Genetics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Knowledge of molecular biology; communication skills; math proficiency; management, software, and social media skills

    As the executive director of Addgene, a mission-driven nonprofit, I’m dedicated to helping scientists around the world share plasmid reagents. I received my Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard Medical School and then spent 15 years at BASF/Abbott. In 2007, I joined RXi Pharmaceuticals as senior director of research collaborations. At one point during my time at BASF, I realized that I had spent a whole week in meetings there and not seen one other woman. In response to this lack of diversity, I founded the current Boston chapter of the Association for Women in Science and have served on numerous other boards. In 2010, I received the Catalyst Award from the Science Club for Girls for longstanding dedication to empowering women in STEM; in 2013, I became a fellow of the Massachusetts Academy of Science recognizing scientific accomplishment and service to the science community. In 2013, I was named one of PharmaVoice's 100 Most Inspiring People.

    My Advice: Find good mentors and advisors. Don't settle for bosses who don't help you grow and learn.

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  • Naomi Latorraca

    Naomi Latorraca | Graduate Student, Stanford University

    I am a first-year rotation student in Rhiju Das's lab, where we study problems about RNA structure and function.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Piano, Flute, Science Olympiad and Math teams, Tennis, Hiking, Biking
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Pittsburg, Molecular Biology and History
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Stanford University, Ph.D. (Candidate), Biophysics
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Curiosity about biological and physical problems, computer programming skills, understanding of molecular biology

    My initial interest in biology was sparked in high school when I saw computational 3D models of proteins and nucleic acids for the first time. I was struck by their symmetry and intricacy. In college, I became involved in research with Michael Grabe, who studies membrane proteins and the transport of sugar, salt, and water across cellular membranes. We developed a computer model for predicting whether proteins are stabilized in the membrane that was based on physical principles like elasticity. At Stanford, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. that combines computational and experimental approaches to better understand macromolecules like RNA and proteins.

    My Advice: Find a particular problem that you are passionate about and then think about it from multiple perspectives.

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  • Adrien Treuille

    Adrien Treuille | Computer Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University

    I invent the future and train graduate students to do the same.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Reading and Writing Poetry: Samuel Taylor Coleridge FTW!
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Georgetown University, Computer Science
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of Washington, Ph.D., Computer Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Interpersonal, speaking, and writing skills; proficiency in computer programming and math; organizational skills; focus

    As an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, my research seeks radical answers to complex scientific challenges, from using model reduction to model fluids to developing online games that allow people to design real biomolecules (Foldit and Eterna).

    Being a professor has given me tons of great experiences: I’ve spoken at the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology at the White House, won a Keck award, and was named one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 by MIT Technology Review. NOVA scienceNow even made a documentary about my work!

    My Advice: When you face a fork in the road, pick the path that looks more fun!

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/adrien-treuille.html

    http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~treuille

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  • Owen Astrachan

    Owen Astrachan | Computer Science Educator, Duke University

    I develop resources and ideas to enable students to apply computational approaches to solve the problems that interest them.

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Soccer, Student Government, Bicycle Touring
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Dartmouth College, Dartmouth College, Mathematics
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Duke University, M.S., Teaching; Ph.D., Computer Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Programming skills, understanding of math and science, writing skills, to know how to engage an audience

    In college, I taught Native Americans at a Job Corps Center for a semester, to get a taste of teaching. That led to a master of arts in teaching, and I then became a high school math teacher. I did that for seven years and started teaching computer science as part of my teaching responsibilities. I realized how interesting it was—I had missed this when I was in college—so I went back to grad school to learn more computer science.

    As I was finishing my Ph.D., Duke University developed a track for those interested in teaching and doing research that enables others to be effective teachers: from understanding how students learn to developing courses and resources to make computer science connect and resonate with students. My experience as a high school teacher continues to help as I teach and develop resources that, I hope, will continue to create the next generation of cyber-capable scientists, engineers, and, most importantly, citizens. My former students help current students by connecting with me via social media and email to let me know how things are going; so there's always a connection between past, current, and future students.

    My Advice: Find an area or a problem that's interesting or intriguing. Read about it, meet people who work in that area, and talk to them about what they do.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Astrachan

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  • Suzanne Barber

    Suzanne Barber | Director, Center for Identity at UT Austin

    I work to build solutions that help people and businesses manage and secure their personally identifiable information (PII).

    [+] MORE

    High School Activities:
    Basketball, Volleyball, Debate Team
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Trinity University, Engineering Science
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    The University of Texas at Arlington, Ph.D., Electrical Engineering
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Knowledge of software engineering, mathematics, and artificial intelligence; problem-solving skills

    I’m the AT&T Endowed Professor in Engineering and the director of the Center for Identity at The University of Texas. At the center, our mission is to deliver high-quality discoveries, applications, education, and outreach in identity management, privacy, and security. I also formerly served as the director of software engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. I’ve worked on research in the areas of cyber-trust, cybersecurity, agent-based systems, and software engineering. I invented technologies that help people and businesses establish reliable authentication and trusted online transactions. My research has been supported by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the National Cancer Institute, U.S. Congress, the state of Texas, and numerous corporate organizations.

    Currently, I serve as a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, appointed by Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, offering guidance to the DHS chief privacy officer.

    My Advice: Good scientists must be open to exploration as well as new ideas and opportunities. I tried out a few different majors—even English!—before landing on software engineering. It wasn’t until later in my career that I discovered how much I enjoyed working in the identity and cybersecurity field.

    http://www.identity.utexas.edu/

    http://www.utexas.edu/know/2014/04/14/looking-for-a-tax-r...

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  • Terry Benzel

    Terry Benzel | Research Scientist, Deter Cyber Security Project

    I lead the DETER Cyber Security Project, a state-of-the-art scientific computing facility for cybersecurity.

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    High School Activities:
    Math, Computer Lab, Data Processing Internships
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Boston University, B.A/M.A., Mathematics and Computer Science
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University of California, Los Angeles, Executive M.B.A.
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Proficiency in computer science concepts and practice (master’s level), grant writing skills; business management experience

    In high school, I took advanced math classes and pursued special projects. I often worked independently with my teachers. In my senior year of high school, I got a job working in data processing at NASA Ames Research Center. This propelled me into research and government-sponsored research. I worked for DRAPER Labs in graduate school where again I was working in a research environment.

    After graduating, I got a job at the MITRE Corp working in computer security, which provided me with a blend of formal mathematics and computer science. After seven years at MITRE, I joined a small start-up company performing research in computer security for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). During this time, I began managing a research group and later pursued my executive M.B.A. The start-up company had an IPO and was acquired by a large Silicon Valley company, where I was the vice president of advanced research.

    After several years and during the Silicon Valley downturn, I helped engineer the divestiture of our research groups into government contracting organizations. After this I went to U.C. Berkeley and then to my present position at USC.

    My Advice: Study cybersecurity topics that have a multidiscipline aspect, such as how cybersecurity relates to human behavior, economics, and engineering.

    http://www.isi.edu/people/tbenzel/about

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsWsDW56XF_jWbox_QzGDZA

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  • Ian Brown

    Ian Brown | Professor, Oxford Internet Institute

    I research and teach information security, privacy-enhancing technologies, and Internet regulation.

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    High School Activities:
    Skiing, Tennis
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Newcastle, Computer Science and Psychology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    University College London, Ph.D., Computer Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Good understanding of mathematics and how computer systems work, writing skills, public speaking skills, and curiosity!

    While completing my Ph.D., I founded a start-up company with some colleagues to commercialize our research on digital movie security. I was the managing director for 18 months, raising $700,000 in venture capital and patenting our technology. Following this, I headed a think tank, the Foundation for Information Policy Research, which studies the interaction between information technology and society. A particularly interesting aspect of this job was briefing politicians on the impact of legislation relating to new technology—including acting as an advisor to the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. I then moved back to academic life, working as a senior research fellow at University College London on Internet security and medical record privacy, before starting my current job in 2007.

    From the time I started on my Ph.D., I’ve been a consultant for a wide range of organizations, including the United Nations, Council of Europe, OECD, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Allianz, McAfee, BT, the BBC, the European Commission, the Cabinet Office, Ofcom, and the National Audit Office.

    My Advice: Find out as much as you can about different areas of science—the Internet is an incredible resource for this. You never know when a specific subject will grab your attention. That interest is the most important thing in deciding on your career path.

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  • Keren Elazari

    Keren Elazari | Cybersecurity Analyst, Gigaom Research

    I explore the intersection of emerging cybersecurity trends with political science and national security questions.

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    High School Activities:
    Robotics Workshop, Theater Club, Computer Games, Computer Hacking
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    Tel Aviv University, History and Philosophy of Science & Technology
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Tel Aviv University, M.A. (candidate), Security Studies, Political Science
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Communication skills, understanding of cybersecurity technological topics and awareness of new developments and technologies

    Since 2000, I’ve worked with government organizations, Big Four accounting firms and Fortune 500 companies (such as AT&T, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Matrix, and Verint Systems) in the roles of network operations analyst, risk management associate, operational security expert, and product manager. In 2012, I went into academia. I joined a private think tank called Singularity University, where I held the position of teaching fellow for security. In 2013, I joined Tel Aviv University as a research fellow with the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security. My academic research focuses on the effect of new phenomena such as cyber weapons or hacktivism on global politics and national security issues. I also work as security industry analyst, tracking trends and emerging security technologies for Gigaom Research, a leading independent media source on emerging technologies.

    My Advice: Dig deep into your selected topics of interest, but also run wide. Science and technology developments in coming years will require multidisciplinary know-how and skills and a broad perspective that takes into account data from multiple fields. Many scientists become experts on one single narrow topic, but I think we need more generalists.

    http://www.k3r3n3.com/

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  • Ashley Hamilton

    Ashley Hamilton | Application Security Engineer, WhiteHat Security

    I manually assess web applications for vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting, SQL injections, cross-site request forgery, and more.

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    High School Activities:
    Marching Band, Color Guard, Concert Band, and Year Book
    To Do My Job You Need:
    A desire to constantly learn and a knack for seeking out ways to use an application that the creators didn't intend

    My father was a software developer and, as a child, I used to sneak into his study to watch him work. This inspired me to teach myself about computers.

    I worked as a professional chef in San Francisco but had to leave the profession due to medical issues caused by the long hours on my feet. Because I loved computers, a close friend invited me to interview at WhiteHat Security. After being hired at WhiteHat, I threw myself full throttle into learning everything I could about web application security and how to better protect the web from attackers.

    My Advice: Always be honing your skills in cybersecurity. For example, participating in Capture the Flag competitions opens you up to learning new skills and discovering new ways to use the ones you already have.

    http://www.playing-catchup.com/

    https://info.whitehatsec.com/OnDem-HackerMarketplaces-Jan...

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  • Ed Skoudis

    Ed Skoudis | Teacher, Sans Institute

    I’m a professional ethical hacker. My team and I measure organizations' security by trying to hack them. I also teach others how.

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    High School Activities:
    Computer Programming, Reading Physics Books, Kite Making, Electrical Circuitry
    Undergraduate Institution + Degree:
    University of Michigan, Electrical Engineering
    Graduate Institution + Degree: 
    Carnegie Mellon, M.S., Information Networking
    To Do My Job You Need:
    Knowledge of computer networking, programming, and system administration; risk analysis aand business skills

    I got started in computer security by finding security flaws during my college studies. After college, I worked at Bellcore, a part of the Bell System focused on research and coordination among the Baby Bells. After a stint working in operator services, I jumped into computer security with gusto, helping respond to attacks against phone company networks.

    I moved from Bellcore to SAIC, where I branched out to work with large banks, major high-tech firms, and other Fortune 500 companies. Later, I started performing incident response and penetration testing for government agencies and military customers. I began teaching for the SANS Institute, sharing my passion for computer security and ethical hacking with thousands of students every year.

    In 2002, I formed the InGuardians company with several like-minded friends. At InGuardians, I focused on security research in virtual machines and malware. In 2010, I formed a new company, Counter Hack Challenges, an innovative organization that designs, builds, and operates popular infosec challenges and simulations, including CyberCity, NetWars, Cyber Quests, and Cyber Aces. As director of CyberCity, I oversee the development of missions, which help train cyber warriors in how to defend the kinetic assets of a physical miniaturized city.

    My Advice: Learn how to program a computer. It’ll help you think more clearly and you can use these skills to automate tasks throughout your life. Maintain your integrity and follow a strict code of ethics in interacting with computers and networks. Don’t do anything illegal, because that will stick with you, limiting your opportunities as your career.

    http://counterhack.net/Counter_Hack/Welcome.html

    http://counterhack.net/Counter_Hack/Just_Your_Typical_Off...

    http://www.irongeek.com/i.php?page=videos/derbycon3/1103-...

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