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  1. Science and Technology Directorate
  2. News Room
  3. Celebrating the Women of Science and Technology

Celebrating the Women of Science and Technology

Release Date: March 6, 2024

Special Women’s History Month guest post from Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Julie Brewer.

Julie Brewer
Julie Brewer

Women’s History Month is an important annual commemoration and celebration of women and their vital roles in our society. This year's theme is Women Who Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion—I certainly count myself as one, and I invite you to hear a bit of my personal story in our new podcast minisode, Learn, Grow, Advocate for Yourself.

Here in this blog space, though, I would like to dedicate time over the next few weeks to highlighting some of my incredible counterparts working at the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), women who are breaking down barriers and making the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields a more inclusive space. Across S&T, women are delivering scientific and technological solutions in complex disciplines such as virology, biochemistry, research design, engineering, and much more. Their work supports the Department’s operational components in achieving success in their missions.

In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to three women making great strides in our Office of National Laboratories (my former home) who are delivering crucial research, development, test, and evaluation support and have graciously offered to share their thoughts, experiences, and advice for the next generations of women in science.

Headshot of Cassandra Robinson.
Casandra Robinson

First up is Casandra Robinson, an engineer at S&T’s National Urban Security and Technology Laboratory (NUSTL), in her own words:

What got me into [STEM] was my curiosity. I have always been very curious and wanted to understand how things work. I also enjoy puzzles, brain teasers, solving problems, and fixing things, so becoming an engineer was a perfect fit for me.”

“I love the mission of my lab, NUSTL, which is to evaluate technologies and provide tools and guidance to help state and local first responders safeguard our communities. My favorite part is the amazing team of people I get to work with; their commitment and enthusiasm for their work are contagious.”

“If my ten-year-old self could see me now, she would say, 'Wow, I did not see us winding up here, but I’m so glad we did.”

Headshot of Lauren Moiso.
Lauren Moiso

Next, meet Lauren Moiso, general engineer for developmental test and evaluation at S&T’s Transportation and Security Laboratory (TSL).

“Growing up, I wanted to follow in my parents' footsteps and pursue a career in the medical/dental field. I always enjoyed math and science classes more than other subjects and loved any creative project that allowed me to build something. I ended up earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering, which merged my childhood dream and my high school passion, leading me to a career in engineering.”

“My education led me to work at TSL, and one of my favorite parts about working there is that since aviation security is constantly evolving and expanding, I get to continually learn and explore new technologies.”

“My advice to the next generation would be to first start exploring your options and the different areas of STEM. Don’t narrow down to just one subject and overlook fields that may seem boring, too complicated, or out of your comfort zone. You may unexpectedly find an area of expertise you absolutely love.”

Headshot of Theresa Pennington.
Theresa Pennington

And finally, here’s Theresa Pennington, research chemist at S&T’s Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC).

“I started out as a criminal justice major at university, but instead of changing majors, I added chemistry, making me a dual major, which led me to earn my master’s in forensic science. Right out of grad school, I went to work for a private clinical lab, then a forensic drug lab. After about 6 years, I became a contractor for the Army, doing toxicology work, then an Army civilian at a mobile army lab, which I ran for six months overseas. Afterwards, I took a position at CSAC, and it will be 5 years come July, where I continue to wear the toxicology hat as well as performing chemical hazard characterization.”

“I had a lot of great influences growing up, specifically my grandmother. My grandmother always encouraged me to be a strong, independent woman and to be my own person, and to this day, I still appreciate how she encouraged all her granddaughters to focus on themselves first.”

“My advice to girls who want to get into STEM is: Just go for it. If it interests you, don’t let anyone tell you ‘You can’t do it.’ There are so many more ways to use a STEM degree than are discussed or talked about, so as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, keep going. Having a STEM background is beneficial even if you opt out of STEM later.”

The women of our national labs and across S&T are great ambassadors to our mission and are paving the way for those who will follow them in furthering the mission of keeping our country safe. The unique and vital contributions that women make to secure the homeland should be recognized, and not just during Women’s History Month. It fills me with pride to know that S&T is progressing in the right direction and bringing a diversity of talent and perspectives together to help solve some of our biggest problems. It takes all of us to help keep the homeland secure, and none of what we do would be possible without the exceptional women within our organization.

Hear more from the women of S&T’s national labs on S&T’s Technologically Speaking Podcast:

Last Updated: 03/07/2024
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