EYH helped light the way to local woman's science career

Feb. 28, 2011

At last year's EYH conference, past attendee, now workshop leader Allison Grandfield helped participants make "oobleck" -- a mixture of corn starch and water -- to explore the idea of non-Newtonian fluids. Photos by Jacqueline McBride/LLNL (Download Image)

EYH helped light the way to local woman's science career

Linda A Lucchetti, lucchetti1@llnl.gov, 925-422-5815
The annual Tri-Valley Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) conference just celebrated its 32nd session last Saturday in San Ramon. Again this year, more than 300 young women in grades 6 through 9 filled the Diablo Valley College, San Ramon Campus classrooms, to hear about what could be in their future - exciting careers in science and math. They also had the chance to meet and talk with some successful women who are actively involved in these careers.

How do we measure the success of such a career conference? One way is to reach back to former participants and learn how the EYH experience influenced their lives. Over the years, many EYH alumnae have returned to the annual conference as volunteers or provided interesting hands-on workshops that showcase their current science expertise. Others regularly keep in touch with conference organizers.

Allison Grandfield of Livermore, the daughter of the Lab's Charlene Grandfield, a deputy team leader in the Environmental, Safety and Health Directorate, attended several EYH conferences while a middle school student in the 1990s. It didn't hurt that her mother has been involved in coordinating past (as well as present) conferences.

"I always liked science and math and was good in both, especially the problem solving aspect that came with them," Allison says.

A graduate of Livermore High School, she earned her master's degree in materials science from UC Santa Barbara after completing a five-year program. Today, she is a chemical engineer and process developer for Clorox, working on such product development areas as water filters.

Allison admits that as a young student, she looked forward to every EYH conference, especially the hands-on workshops.

"There are two workshops that come to mind," she shares. One had to do with a profession that many young girls aspire to- veterinarian. The other involved LEGO robotics -- a popular workshop that continues to impress girls today.

Last year, Allison returned to EYH, this time as a presenter of a chemistry-related workshop that had the girls rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty - making slime." It was rewarding and fun to see the girls so excited. It felt good to read their positive evaluations at the end of the sessions."

Allison hopes to continue on a technical, rather than management, career path with an increased focus on the engineer portion of her title. She is even considering going back to school. "I would like to tie in art and creativity to science," she said.

This year she is passing the baton of EYH workshop leader to one of her work colleagues at Clorox. "My message to young women is that science is really exciting - they should 'go for it.' There's a lot that women can bring to science and math careers. Don't think that these careers are unattainable," she advises.

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