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

April 15, 2024

Meet Andrea Taylor, a principal supervisor at the Advanced Light Source overseeing a team of administrative professionals performing various administrative functions, business support services, and events. She plays a key role in supporting key operations at the ALS with efficiency and accuracy while balancing growth and creativity. Learn what Andrea loves about her work in the interview below.

Outside of work, Andrea enjoys a host of activities, including yoga, hiking with her dogs Dashiell and Zelda, playing her guitar, and reading fiction.

What inspired you to work at Berkeley Lab? 

I worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years, slowly putting myself through college, culminating in my graduating from UC Berkeley (Cal) with a degree in political science. While at Cal, I became curious about the institution up on the hill. Once I started digging into what Berkeley Lab is and does, I knew it was where I wanted to be. The opportunity to contribute to mission-based work, where every project has the potential to make a tangible and meaningful influence on society, deeply resonates with my personal and professional aspirations to do important work that has a lasting impact.

What have you been most proud of accomplishing at the Lab?

In my role, I embody a combination of leadership, technical, and interpersonal qualities that not only ensures the smooth operation of ALS administrative functions but also fosters a positive and productive work environment. Administrative work can be rote, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be static. Much of what I do concerns automating or innovating around repetitive tasks to increase efficiency and productivity, which frees my team up to do more complex, value-added activities requiring their insight and creativity (which they possess in abundance!). I’ve been very proud to foster a collaborative, team-based culture where the team is empowered to share their ideas, learn new concepts and techniques, take risks, and fail intelligently and safely.

One of the more recent accomplishments that stands out to me was partnering with the Women's Interlaboratory Network (WIN) and organizing/chairing the 2023 Women's History Month interlaboratory event, a first-of-its-kind panel with an organizing committee pulled from five (5) different national labs. Over 300 participants attended, and it was enthusiastically received. It’s my goal to continue building that relationship with WIN to collaborate on solutions and events that benefit our collective national lab community.

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

First, I cannot emphasize enough the value of being strategic with your professional development. Start with informational interviews. These have been a key way I’ve connected with leaders at the Lab and gained firsthand knowledge about the skills and experiences that are most valued in my areas of interest, allowing me to tailor my personal development efforts accordingly. I have had over 30 interviews with folks here at the most senior levels of leadership and have found almost every leader or expert from whom I’ve requested 30 minutes of their time to be happy to help. I’ve forged strong connections through access to the wisdom of some of the Lab’s highest-performing professionals, whose doors have been open again and again for mentorship and training. Learn more about networking strategies through the IDEA Office’s 10 Cups Networking Program

I’ve been really grateful for the professional and personal opportunities I’ve been able to pursue with the Lab’s encouragement and support. There was a time when I thought pursuing higher education was beyond what I could achieve, but the Lab’s tuition assistance program fully funded my master’s degree and provided me a space where I could be both an effective professional and student. 

Finally, check out the many mentorship opportunities available at the Lab or lead as a co-chair or active member of one of the Lab’s many Employee Resource Groups. I’ve been able to advance an array of meaningful initiatives as co-chair in the Women’s Support and Empowerment Council (WSEC) and in IDEA work at the ALS. The best opportunities I’ve experienced are those I created for myself through these channels.


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

I think the best way to engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups not just in STEM but also in STEM-adjacent roles like mine (since not everyone wants to do research) is to plug them into the programs and activities the Lab is already doing. If you feel like bringing these folks into the fold is an important mission, and it is, then volunteer at one of the many opportunities to do so with the K-12 STEM Education & Outreach Program or mentor and volunteer with the Workforce Development & Education group. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of well-vetted opportunities to do this work if it’s meaningful for you. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to volunteer and mentor with the groups already doing the heavy lifting. You want to help? Show up. 

Above: Andrea performing at the Lab (left), onsite at the Lab (center) and her pups Dashiell and Zelda (right)