Carolina Araujo Barcelos

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

November 12, 2020

Carolina Araujo Barcelos is a scientist in the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) whose efforts are helping to accelerate the development of new products and technologies through fermentation. According to one colleague: “Fermentation campaigns usually last 24 hours of the day for five to six days a week. Even though Carolina holds a Ph.D. and has over five years of experience, she is very humble and a team player who signs up for late night shifts without hesitation. This work ethic is inspiring to male and female engineers alike.”

In her free time, Carolina enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, taking care of houseplants and exploring the Bay Area and all it has to offer.

What inspired you to work at Berkeley Lab?

After I finished my doctorate, I was looking for an opportunity to expand my knowledge in biochemical engineering and related areas. I was specifically drawn to Berkeley Lab because of the strong international research community and its reputation for the amazing work it does to advance science and for being a global leader in energy-efficient technologies, which is also my area of interest. I was very excited to work for an organization with such high-quality science and with the most prestigious researchers in the world.

What does your current scientific project or research entail?

I work on multiple projects that focus on the development and optimization of processes to produce high-performance fuels and other molecules through fermentation, and then scaling up these processes from the lab to pilot implementation. Currently, my main project uses an engineered strain of E. coli to produce isoprenol by extractive fermentation. It was shown that this class of molecules promote an “octane hyperboosting,” enhancing the performance when blended with gasoline.

What excites you about your work at the Lab?

What excites me most about my work at the lab is the ability to work on a wide variety of projects and with people from many different backgrounds. The science that you get exposed to is incomparable.

Additionally, the Lab’s culture supports learning and development on the job, which is a great motivator. All my managers and supervisors have been an incredible source of encouragement and guidance.

What have you been most proud of in your work?

I’m very proud of the projects I’ve been able to work on with academic organizations and national laboratories, as well as to get to know the world of emerging startups. It is very rewarding to know that my efforts are helping to accelerate the development of new products and technologies.

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

For someone to succeed in science and engineering, I recommend continuous learning and to always seek to broaden your skill set. Staying up to date with the latest developments and technologies in your field is essential to succeed in our rapidly changing world.

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

I think one important factor is to ensure that every student is exposed to STEM experiences when they are very young to stimulate their interest, mainly through programs that emphasize hands-on science.

Here at the Lab, there are a number of programs designed specifically for different stages of STEM education. These programs offer hands-on activities and games, science fairs, meeting with scientists to learn about career pathways, Lab visits, student apprenticeships and so much more.