7 Tips from Women in STEM at Interior

3/15/2022

Women’s History Month celebrates the often-overlooked contributions of women in history, society and culture. At Interior, women manage the nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage, pursue cutting-edge science and honor trust responsibilities to Indigenous communities. 

To ensure that the doors are open to future leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, we asked Dr. Candi Hudson, a mechanical engineer for oil spill response with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and Tershara Matthews, chief of Emerging Programs with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, for their advice, insights and experiences.

If you work in STEM or if you are considering a career in STEM, here are some tips from Hudson and Matthews to make the most of your career: 

  1. Seek out new opportunities. Continue to learn, find new challenges and gain experience in the areas that pique your interest. Hudson says, “Find your passion; doing so will open doors of opportunity, and everything will fall into place.” At Interior, employees can find their passion by working on short-term projects, taking a detail or pursuing lateral opportunities with the DOI Career Connection, which provides purpose-driven opportunities for Interior’s workforce. There are opportunities across the country and Interior for scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals.
  2. Take risks. Taking risks will turn into career opportunities. Take chances to speak with someone successful in your interest area who can provide insight into the STEM career field.
  3. Build a network of peers and mentors in the same field. Join professional STEM organizations, attend various STEM events, network with others in your field and find opportunities to use your talents. Interior offers opportunities for students and recent graduates that can help you get started as an entry level engineer or scientist. Matthews believes that her internship was key to her career opportunities at Interior.
  4. Find a STEM field or project you love that will help others. There are many technical challenges to solve to meet the needs of society and the world. We are developing a robust and sustainable clean energy economy, addressing drought and the climate crisis, and advancing environmental justice. Hudson says, “Interior gave me the opportunity to utilize my talents to contribute to society as a career of service. I enjoy contributing my expertise and talents for the greater good of helping society to meet a need.” At Interior, there are archaeology, engineeringwildlife biology and many other STEM positions.
  5. Develop technology that inspires you. Across the Department, there are many inspiring projects and technologies to develop. As examples, you could monitor, understand and manage the Earth’s natural resources using Landsat data; research marine environments to inform renewable energy planning, leasing and development efforts; and develop tools to lower wildland fire risks for people and communities.
  6. Do not let anyone or anything stop you. Find, create or promote inclusive opportunities to engage or become engaged in STEM. At Interior, we know that fostering equity and inclusion is critical to our work, so we’re taking action.
  7. Become a mentor. If you’re already in the STEM field, become a mentor. According to Matthews, “Minority students need to see someone that looks like them […] to know that it is possible for them to achieve in the STEM fields.” We have mentorship programs, communities of practice and employee resource groups to help our workforce thrive.

You can make a lasting impact on society and the world by pursuing a career in STEM.

About Dr. Candi Hudson and Tershara Matthews

Dr. Candi Hudson – Mechanical/Materials Engineer, Oil Spill Response Research Branch Chief (BSEE)

Dr. Candi Hudson speaks at a podium.

Dr. Candi Hudson is the senior engineer advisor for the Office of Offshore Regulatory Programs Emerging Technologies Branch within the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Dr. Hudson previously served as chief for the Response Research Branch, managed BSEE’s Oil Spill Response Research program, and oversaw Ohmsett – the National Oil Spill Response Research and Test Facility. She also served as BSEE's Systems Reliability section chief and petroleum engineer for Technical Assessment and has held other engineering positions during her time at BSEE. She celebrates eleven years this April with Interior.

Dr. Hudson earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Bradley University, her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Prairie View A&M University, and her doctoral degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Maryland-College Park. 

Dr. Hudson was awarded the 2021 Women of Color in STEM award for Professional Achievement in Government. In her spare time she mentors aspiring women interested in STEM. She is a NASA, Sloan Fellow and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Tershara Matthews – Chief of Emerging Programs (BOEM Gulf of Mexico Region) 

Portrait of Tershara Matthews, smiling and wearing a white dress.

Tershara Matthews currently oversees all resource management functions for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s offshore renewable energy, alternate use and marine minerals on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf.

Tershara has worked for the Department of Interior for more than 13 years. During her tenure, Tershara played key leadership roles in advancing the National Sand Inventory Initiative for the Marine Minerals Program in the Gulf of Mexico, developing the renewable program in GOM, and implementing a more interactive format for outreach initiatives. 

Prior to her federal service, Tershara worked as a research associate at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory for over a decade. Some areas of expertise include epidemiology of parasites and pathogens in penaeid shrimp, marine aquaculture, molecular genetics, ecology, food webs, community ecology, aquatic ecosystems, coastal zone management and public health. 

Tershara received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Tershara serves as a national board member of The Pink Lotus Project, which is a national nonprofit organization focused on empowering women and mentoring girls. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and a member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the Links. Tershara and her family reside in Mississippi.

Find Your Path at Interior

At Interior, we are prioritizing equity and inclusion. By advancing equity across the Department, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved.

If you’re ready for a career at Interior, visit USAJOBS to apply for open positions.

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