Anastasiia Butko

Visible Spectrum is a series to spotlight talented and dedicated women employees across the Lab

January 14, 2021

Anastasiia Butko is a computing scientist who is passionate about using her computations to answer certain research questions and study new technologies such as supercomputers.

When not at the Lab, you can find Anastasiia picking local mushrooms, which is an activity she finds to be a form of meditation: “To be surrounded by silent nature and just focusing on one simple task is peaceful. Although, while the best part of it is the picking process, I do enjoy a cream of wild mushroom soup afterward.”

What inspired you to work at Berkeley Lab?

Since I was a kid, I have always been a big fan of science fiction and was attracted to the unresolved mysteries of our life and universe. I would have never imagined that someday I would be doing research in one of the best scientific laboratories in the world. For me, working at the Lab is actually bringing my childhood fantasies to life.

What does your current scientific project or research entail?

Computations are mainly used as a tool to answer certain research questions. As a computer scientist, I study new technologies that would allow answering these questions faster and more accurately. It is a very exciting moment to be a computer architect, as we have reached the point where existing technologies can no longer keep up. My current research is focused on helping build the advanced quantum testbed that will one day overpower the existing supercomputers and open the door to the new computing era.

What have you been most proud of in your work?

The Lab gives unlimited opportunities to be part of something bigger in so many different areas: biology, chemistry, astro-physics, and many more. Passing on knowledge to others is one of the most (if not the most) important part of being a scientist. One can not make a difference or advance society if thoughts are kept hidden. It is a fundamental concept of quantum physics: the state of the system is changed only when it is observed from the outside. I am proud that I can share my discoveries and observations with the community and do it well.

Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter and/or succeed in your field of work?

My main piece of advice is to never assume that you are not good enough to apply for a job or make a difference. We all are part of a team where contributors have different sets of skills and experience. It is important to recognize your strengths and be able to put them in practice at the right place.

How can our community engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

It is a very difficult task as we need to deal with prejudice, cultural differences, histories of discrimination, and many other factors that can not be ignored. Knowledge is power, and we as a research community have that power. We need to make sure that the knowledge is shared and widely distributed without any barriers.