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    Women Scientists & Engineers Council Charter

    Leaders in Science and Engineering

    To address issues that affect the careers of women scientists, engineers, and researchers around the world, Berkeley Lab created the Women Scientists & Engineers Council (WSEC). The WSEC and Berkeley Lab’s Human Resources Department management work in partnership to review strategies and priorities for recruitment, retention, work life balance, and development of women scientists and engineers. Subgroups have been formed to focus on these areas and to address specific challenges. 

    Ideas are exchanged at quarterly seminars that celebrate the work of women engineers, scientists, and postdoctoral fellows. These seminars provide important networking opportunities, bringing women together and providing a comfortable forum for introductions and awareness of one another’s work.

    WSEC image

    Key Activities:

    • Conduct periodic needs analyses to identify key strategies and priorities for the Subgroups
    • Engage division leaders in recruitment, retention, and development
    • Develop women scientist- and engineer-focused recruiting plan
    • Conduct training and networking forums

    WSEC image

    Some of our featured speakers, left to right: Melissa Lunden, Marca Doeff, Dawn Munson, Susan Hubbard, Mina Bissell, and Persis Drell. Not shown: Inez Fung, Cecila Aragon , Eva Nogales, Odelle Hadley, Merna Hurd, and Jeannette Brown.

    For more information, please contact the Diversity & Inclusion Office at [email protected] or call x 4232.


    Roles and Responsibilities

    Lab-Wide Level

    • Sponsor quarterly luncheon forums and development workshops for early- and late-career scientists, postdocs, and graduate student research assistants
    • Expand membership to ensure adequate representation from all Berkeley Lab scientific disciplines (with a targeted focus on Earth Sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Biosciences, Computing Sciences, and Engineering)
    • Assist Berkeley Lab with diversifying its workforce in the area of women / minority scientists by networking with professionals and colleagues in the areas of: Earth Sciences, Computing Sciences, BioSciences, Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering

    Division Level

    • Focus on Subgroup initiative(s) to assist Berkeley Lab in areas of recruitment and retention, work life balance, and the professional development of women scientists and engineers
    • Actively participate in outreach efforts to increase the number of women / minority scientists at Berkeley Lab
    • Assist with identifying women scientists and engineers willing to commit to mentoring a woman postdoc or graduate student within their disciplines:
      • Develop relationship(s) with women- and minority-focused scientific associations
      • Identify specific university departments from which to recruit recent doctorate graduates to Berkeley Lab
    • Continuously  support the Women Scientists & Engineers luncheon forums

    Subgroup Roles & Responsibilities

    WSEC Subgroups focus on particular initiatives identified by the Council. Members need to be willing to participate and contribute toward the success of a Subgroup’s identified goals.

    1. Recruitment, Retention, and Career Advancement: Chair -- TBD
      Develops and implements strategies to enhance the recruitment and retention of qualified women scientists and engineers
    2. Professional Development: Chair -- Dawn Munson, Mechanical Engineer, Engineering Division 
      Identifies and addresses the critical professional needs of women scientists, engineers, and researchers at Berkeley Lab
    3. Work/Life Balance: Chair -- Jill Fuss, Biophysicist Scientist Engineer, Life Sciences Division
      Seeks to discover innovative ways to balance one’s professional and personal quality of life

    4. Outreach and Professional Networking: Chair – Taghrid Samak, Computer Scientist, Computational Research Division
      Participates in activities to support and interact with other women scientists and engineers in academic institutions, private industry, and government agencies



    Current Initiatives

    Professional Development

    The Professional Development Subgroup identifies and addresses the critical professional needs of women scientists, engineers, and researchers at Berkeley Lab. This subgroup:

    • Organizes and promotes quarterly luncheon seminars, each attracting 35 to 50 scientific, engineering, and operational staff.
    • In 2008 and 2009, partnered with Berkeley Lab Institute to sponsor Negotiation and Problem-Solving Workshops, with versions for scientific, postdoc / GSRA, and operational staff.
    • In 2010, conducted a Needs Assessment Survey to better understand the needs of women scientists and engineers, and to prioritize WSEC Subgroup initiatives.
    • In 2011, partnered with Berkeley Lab Learning Institute to pilot a two-part workshop series for women scientists and engineers called Leadership Presence: Commanding Attention to Your Research.

    Recruitment & Retention

    The Recruitment & Retention Subgroup works to develop and implement strategies to enhance the recruitment and retention of qualified women scientists and engineers. To date, this Subgroup has reviewed data on women scientists, including: a head count over the past three years, hiring rates for women scientists, compensation comparables, and turnover and retention rates. This Subgroup works to:

    • Measure Workforce / Underutilization-Performance for Each Division
      • Develop / implement metric system
      • Perform workforce demographic reviews
      • Establish accountability
        • Grade Division efforts
        • Hold Divisions accountable
    • Improve Recruitment & Retention
      • Determine percentage of females graduating with Ph.D.s in top U.S. universities
    • Determine availability
    • Monitor Diversity Web sites
      • Track outreach efforts
      • Advertising – options
    • Establish search guidelines
      • Follow guidelines recently updated by the Lab Staff Committee
      • Add one female or minority candidate to shortlist for interviews

    Work/Life Balance

    The Work/Life Balance Subgroup strives to help make work life more manageable for employees with family commitments and to enable them to build their research careers and reputations. Since its inception, the Work/Life Balance Subgroup has:

    • Received approval for third-party vendor to provide backup child care (allows any employee up to 15 visits for child and seniors) and a child care facility at the future second campus
    • Established a list of

      elements1lactation facilities

      for nursing mothers

    • Is currently updating polices for:
      • Sick Leave
      • Bereavement Leave
      • Pregnancy Disability Leave and Lactation Accommodation
      • Parental Bonding Leave
    • Is currently reviewing:
      • Alternate/Flex-time leave policy
      • Parking for pregnant employees
      • Work/Life Balance survey responses

    Outreach & Professional Networking

    The Professional Networking Subgroup participates in activities to support and interact with other women scientists and engineers in academic institutions, private industry, and government agencies, such as:

    • Networking with professional associations
    • Supporting student chapters of professional organizations
    • Partnering with established mentorship and outreach programs

    Women Scientists & Engineers Council Representatives


    WSEC Council Members

    Job Title

    Member Since


    Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division

    Ina Reichel

    Senior Scientific Engineer Associate


    Ext. 4341

    Advanced Light  Source Division

    Elizabeth Moxon



    Ext. 5760

    Advanced Light Source Division

    Elaine Chan

    Software Developer 3


    Ext. 2879

    Chemical Sciences Division Desire Whitmore Affiliate Postdoc   510-642-9901
    Computational Research Division I-Min Chen Computer Systems Group Lead   925-296-5760

    Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) and Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI)

    Ellen Ford Operations Deputy Director 2013 Ext. 4905
    Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) and National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) Elizabeth Bautista Computer Systems Group Lead 2013 Ext. 7454
    Earth Sciences Division Corinne Bachmann Geological Postdoc 2014 Ext. 6743

    Earth Sciences Division

    Lirong Cheng Affiliate Scientist 2014 Ext. 6525

    Earth Sciences Division

    Yingqi Zhang

    Geological Scientist


    Ext. 2983

    Engineering Division

    Dawn Munson

    Mechanical Engineer


    Ext. 2940

    Environment, Health, & Safety (EHS)

    Maram Kassis Waste Management Professional   Ext. 6823

    Energy Analysis & Environmental Impacts Division

    Corinne Scown

    Project Scientific Engr Assoc

    Ext. 4507

    Energy Analysis & Environmental Impacts Division Nancy Brown Chemist Senior Staff Scientist 2007 Ext. 4241 / 4764

    Energy Storage & Distributed Resources Division

    Guoying Chen

    Chemist Research Scientist/Engineer


    Ext. 5843

    Energy Storage & Distributed Resources Division  Marca Doeff  Chemical Staff Engineer 2009  Ext. 5821 / 7409
    Genomics Division Susannah Tringe Biologist Research Scientist 2011 (925) 296-5813

    Life Sciences Division

    Kelly S. Trego

    Biochemist Project Scientist/Engineer


    Ext. 6113

    Life Sciences Division

    Helen Budworth

    Biochemist Project Scientist/Engineer


    Ext. 2601

    Life Sciences Division

    Jill Fuss

    Biophysicist Scientist Engineer


    Ext. 6436 / 2864

    Life Sciences Division

    Susan Tsutakawa

    Biochemist Research Scientist/Engineer


    Ext. 2864

    Material Sciences Division Edith Bourret-Courchesne Senior Scientist 2012 Ext. 6537
    Nuclear Science Janilee Benitez Sr. Scientific Engr. Assoc.   Ext. 7843

    Physical Biosciences Division

    Junko Yano

    Chemist Research Scientist/Engineer


    Ext. 4366

    Physical Biosciences Division

    Lida Gifford Science Writer/Editor 2014 Ext. 2563

    Physics Division

    Natalie Roe

    Physics Division Director


    Ext. 6380

    Public Affairs Susan Brady Center for Science Education & Engineering (CSEE) Manager 2013 Ext. 5325

    Human Resources (HR)

    Vera Potapenko

    Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer


    Ext. 6681

    Human Resources (HR)

    Tina Clarke

    Sr. HR Division Partner


    Ext. 6593


    Christel Cantlin

    Diversity & Inclusion Manager


    Ext. 7635


    Lady Idos

    Sr. Diversity & Inclusion Analyst


    Ext. 4232

    Women Scientists & Engineers Council

    Calendar of Events


    On October 18, 2013, 15 Lab women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields were honored at a special event, hosted by the Diversity & Inclusion Office and the Women Scientists and Engineers Council. By promoting their achievements, we hope to encourage a new generation of women to enter the STEM workforce, Lab Director Paul Alivisatos told the gathering. Honorees include (l-r) Susan Celniker, Jill Fuss, Rachel Segalman, Deborah Agarwal, Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, Natalie Roe, Vera Potapenko (HR), Alivisatos, Mina Bissell, Horst Simon (Deputy Director), Rosio Alvarez, Susan Hubbard, and Rebecca Abergel. Honorees not pictured are Nancy Jean Brown, Beate Heinemann, Dawn Munson, Susannah Green Tringe, and Kathy Yelick  Click here for more information. 

    Upcoming Events:

    • January 28, 2015 - Women and Investing Workshop (B50 Auditorium from 12:00 - 1:00 pm)

    Past Events:

    • December 10, 2014 - December Networking Forum
    • September 8, 2014 - Stress Management Workshop
    • August 18, 2014 - Speaker Jeannette Brown: "Chemistry Past, Present, and Future" - Chemist, Historian, and author of African American Women Chemists
    • December 16, 2013 - "Leave of Absence" presentation by Disability Management Team in HR.  Watch the video here.
    • December 2, 2013 - December Networking Forum
    • October 18, 2013 - Women @ The Lab event honoring 15 outstanding women in STEM.
    • May 13, 2013 - Merna Hurd, LLNL Associate Deputy Director - Discussing her career in the public and private sectors, how she has overcome obstacles to thrive in a male-dominated field, how her career has evolved over the years, and how she manages work/life balance. Merna Hurd - Event Flyer 5/13/13
    • December 18, 2012 - December Networking Forum
    • December 6, 2011 – Holiday Networking Session
    • October 12, 2011 --Luncheon Seminar featuring guest speaker
    • August 16, 2011 --Division Directors Networking Forum
    • May 19, 2011.  Patricia Rankin, Associate Vice Chancellor for research and professor of Physics at University of Colorado, Boulder, “Building Better Teams”
    • April 21, 2011. Persis Drell, Director, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, “An Unexpected Path to Physics as a Career”
    • February 24, 2011. Dr. Mina Bissell, Distinguished Scientist, Life Sciences Division, “Balancing Your Career and Research Development”
    • December 3, 2010. WSEC Professional Development Subgroup, “Holiday Networking Session, WSEC Intro (Past, Present, Future)”
    • September 14, 2010. Dr. Susan Hubbard, Geological Staff Scientist, Earth Sciences Division, on “Toward X-Ray Vision: Geophysical Signatures of the Shallow Subsurface”
    • May 21, 2010. Odelle Hadley, Postdoc, Environmental Energy Technology Division, on “Quantifying BC Emissions from Cook Stoves and the Effect of Their Subsequent Deposition to Ice and Snow”
    • February 16, 2010. Dawn Munson, Mechanical Engineer, Engineering Division, on “Engineering as a Tool for Discovery”
    • October 23, 2010. Dr. Marca Doeff, Staff Scientist for the Materials Science Division, on her research interests focused on “Materials for Battery and Fuel Cell Applications”
    • August 17, 2009. Dr. Melissa Lunden, Chemical Staff Engineer, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, on “Physical and Chemical Behavior of Aerosols in the Atmosphere”
    • May 15, 2009. Dr. Eva Nogales, Senior Biophysicist, Life Sciences Division, on “Structural Insights into Protein Self-assembly Processes Essential in Cell Division”
    • October 30, 2008. Dr. Cecilia Aragon, Staff Scientist for the Computational Research Division, on “Facilitating Scientific Insight with Sunfall”
    • July 28, 2008. Professor Inez Fung on “The Physics of the Climate System”