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Laura Adolfie

Director, U.S. Department of Defense STEM Development Office
Country of birth: USA

Educational background: PhD Education

Laura Adolfie

Who or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler—a leading health innovator—and my staff work in the
U.S. Senate on health-related and nutrition education policy.

Primary responsibilities of your current job
I work with science and engineering professionals and educators on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. These initiatives contribute to building the U.S. science and engineering talent for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Nation. My responsibilities include individual student programs and providing support across DoD. My duties span from contributing strategic direction to working directly with students, STEM workforce data (U.S. and global trends), collaborating with other government agencies, and providing support to the Department’s scientists, engineers and leaders to ensure that we have the highest quality STEM enterprise.

Biggest obstacle or challenge that you have faced in your career
Most of my career has been spent on health and education policy and managing large programs. Interestingly, in both areas, individuals have very strong opinions and assumptions that are based on their personal experiences. For this reason, it is important to be armed with relevant research, evidence or data to inform their decision making.

Advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out
As the research shows, it is important to have a network of mentors, seek out and take advantage of “focused” opportunities, have a career plan, each year identify and engage in three things that you thought you would like to do or try (personal and/or professional), engage in reflection, and help other women build self-esteem and confidence.