Elina Dluger Rios

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

November 9, 2021

Elina Dluger Rios joined Berkeley Lab nearly two years ago as the special programs and volunteer training coordinator for K-12 STEM Education Programs, which is part of the Government and Community Relations Office. In her role, she coordinates the Science Accelerating Girls’ Engagement in STEM program (SAGE) which is a summer camp for high school students. She also supports other K-12 programs including the Bring your Child to Work Day and is currently working on a new Spanish-English bilingual program for high school students.

Outside of the Lab, Elina is a proud mom of one toddler and two German shepherds. She enjoys walking her dogs as well as memorizing and singing all the nursery rhymes she can find online and through Disney.

What inspired you to work at Berkeley Lab?

My career goal is to inspire the next generation into STEM careers and especially reach out to students who are underrepresented in the sciences, particularly Latinx, Black, Native American, female, and non-binary students. I also strive to continue learning in any role or institution I’m a part of. So when I found out that Berkeley Lab was looking for someone to support their high school STEM summer program, it seemed like the perfect fit. And I was excited to join and be a part of the Lab’s STEM outreach efforts.

What has been a meaningful accomplishment for you at the Lab?

I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support that the SAGE camp has received these last two summers from Berkeley Lab staff. A lot of people and effort came together to create an amazing camp experience. I was proud to work with everyone to create two successful virtual camps and was proud to be able to coordinate over 60 staff volunteers who held a variety of STEM and STEM-adjacent positions at the Lab.

What have you been most proud of in your work?

I have met some amazing students in my time working as a STEM program manager for over 10 years in a variety of institutions including small nonprofits, education foundations, and museums. What I have been most proud of is seeing my former students and interns succeed.

While some are about to graduate from college and are working as pharmaceutical technicians, others have followed my former footsteps and gone into ecology and renewable energy. And there are those who are still in school and have taken part in Berkeley Lab’s K-12 programs. And while some have decided not to go into STEM, they still tell me that the programs they were involved in with me have helped them with their confidence, public speaking, and leadership skills and that is great to hear too!

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

Like in any career, you have to have passion for what you do. I would say if inspiring students is something you feel strongly about, there are a variety of ways to get involved, including volunteering for the Lab’s K-12 STEM programs. Plus it’s an added bonus that you won’t forget what it was like to be a teenager!

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

Be a mentor to someone. Invite them to join STEM clubs. Show someone that they are smart enough, creative enough, talented enough to be in STEM. Talk to them to see what obstacles are in their way and work with them to help them bypass them. Is it lack of resources and/or confidence? Do they need a ride to the competition or college tour? Do they need a tutor but have to work? Are they the first in their family to go to college and don’t know where to start to apply? Then ask yourself: can you help them navigate any of these obstacles? If so, good. And do it.