March 14, 2023
Margaret Scheiner, Ph.D., wears many hats in her role with the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education—all to support education and scientific research initiatives.
As an ORISE STEM Workforce Development (STEM WD) senior project manager for U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory educational programs, she administers internships and fellowships, primarily with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). As a functional analyst for ORISE, she provides data analyses for STEM WD staff and leadership. That’s in addition to participation with a variety of teams and committees on behalf of her workgroup and ORISE STEM WD.
The work is rewarding for Scheiner. “I value the variety of projects I have been a part of—often simultaneously!” she said. “I can connect with a variety of students, recent graduates, faculty, coworkers and federal staff.”
Scheiner came to ORISE in 2018 after graduating from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering and completing her master’s and doctorate in industrial engineering at Florida State University (FSU). She first learned about ORISE when she was nominated by FSU to attend the 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting as a U.S. delegate supported by aerospace company Lockheed Martin.
“ORISE coordinated the U.S. delegation’s orientation and travel, and I saw how much our contact seemed to love her work and how beneficial ORISE research programs and initiatives were for students and researchers,” she said.
Later that year, ORISE participated at a career fair at Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering, where Scheiner talked to Desmond Stubbs, Ph.D., ORISE director of diversity initiatives.
“Desmond and I had a great conversation, and he connected me to several other STEM WD staff members, leading to several informational interviews about the organization and opportunities,” Scheiner said. She started as a project manager at ORISE in June 2018.
In her current role, Scheiner has helped create and release professional development resources for students, recent graduates and postdocs such as the training modules for ORISE Learn, and organized events such as the Ignite Off! Competition. Additionally, she is a member of the National Postdoctoral Association, the National Association for Colleges and Employers, the Society of Women Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi.
Scheiner encourages those considering internships and fellowships to take charge of the course of their careers. “You’re the person who cares the most about your future. Other people in your life—family, partners, friends, mentors, faculty advisors, managers—may care, too, but ultimately, it’s your life,” she said.
Those opportunities don’t happen by accident, either, Scheiner said, so the most important first step to take is to apply for the opportunities—and be willing to take some risks. “Apply even if you’re not sure that internship or fellowship is the perfect fit for your interests: the experience is a great time to learn if that type of project aligns with your career goals. Apply even if you’re not sure you’d be the best applicant: let the reviewers/mentors make that decision—it’s their job, anyway!”
But also give yourself the chance to weigh your choices. “You don’t need a strict three-, five- or 10-year plan, but doing some self-reflection on where you want to be and how to get there can help you make decisions, such as which internship or fellowship offer to accept,” she said.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.
ORISE is managed by ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, for DOE’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.osti.gov.