The 11th most influential female engineer in the country, according to Business Insider, Dr. Noël Bakhtian, director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at Idaho National laboratory, will be delivering the opening keynote address at the Women of Influence on August 16th.
In her current position, she leads the center’s efforts to solve the most pressing energy problems facing the world, including the energy-water nexus, advanced manufacturing, nuclear energy, cybersecurity, policy and supercomputing.
Before joining the Idaho Nation Laboratory in 2017, Dr. Bakhtian was the Global Operations Director for the Women’s March Global. She was a Senior Policy Advisor to President Barack Obama from October 2015 to August 2016, providing information on the water-energy-food nexus, innovations in energy and the Arctic.
After getting her undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering and physics from Duke, she was awarded a prestigious Churchill Scholarship for a year of study at the University of Cambridge in Britain, where she got her masters’ of philosophy in engineering doing wind tunnel research. She then headed to Stanford to get her master’s degree, and stayed to get her Ph.D.
While she was getting her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Stanford, she worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center advanced-computing division helping to create new technology that helps land missions to Mars. However, during her last years of graduate school, NASA had shut down the space shuttle, and there was discussion about limiting U.S. participation in the International Space Station, so she decided to pursue a year-long fellowship to learn how these decisions are reached.
She applied for and got an AAAS Fellowship that brings STEM PhDs to Washington D.C. to work in Congress and in executive branch agencies. She began work her first year in the office of a Senator. Finding that there wasn’t much demand for space-policy fellows, she branched out into energy and the environment.
The second year she took a position at the Department of Energy, first as the technical lead on projects like the wind energy incubator and the wave energy prize; then moving into the DOE’s international affairs office where she started up and managed the department’s portfolio of projects at the intersection of water and energy policy. She enjoyed being on the front lines during the beginning stage of major bilateral and multilateral partnerships between the U.S., and partners such as China, Israel, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union.
According to her profile in ChronicleVitae, one of her best pieces of career advice is, “Do some informational interviews. They are really a powerful tool. You’re not asking for a job, you’re just asking to grab coffee with someone and learn about their career path and what their life is like.”
If you’d like to hear what Dr. Bakhtian, and the rest of our amazing line up of speakers have to say, you can get tickets to the Wyoming Women of Influence here.