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

December 8, 2022

Nikki Humphreys serves multiple roles at Berkeley Lab in support of Biosciences Area operations. In addition to being the overall Area Operations Deputy, she serves as Operations Deputy for two divisions and an operations center.

Outside of work, Nikki and her family love food in many forms: eating, cooking at home, and watching cooking shows like Top Chef and Bobby’s Triple Threat, a new favorite! They explore a variety of restaurants (especially spots that specialize in soul food, BBQ, Mexican, and steakhouses) in the Bay Area and greater Sacramento area and even challenge themselves to duplicate or enhance the dishes at home. In recognition of her love of food and the Bay Area, she also strongly appreciates and supports the Lab’s involvement in local food banks. You can also find Nikki in her Golden State Warriors gear at a game in the city or shouting at her TV during basketball season.

What inspired you to work at Berkeley Lab?

I’ve been at the Lab since September 2018. Two people played a key role in my decision: my husband inspiring me to step outside my comfort zone after a 20+ year career working on UC campuses and the MBIB senior administrator (now retired) who strongly encouraged me to apply. Throughout my UC career, I have maintained a steadfast commitment to enabling science as best I can as a non-scientist. My current position allows me to do that while also ensuring that I am constantly learning. There are always new challenges and opportunities.

What have you been most proud of in your work?

I really am most proud of my strong, collaborative work experiences with individuals across the Lab. One meaningful accomplishment that stands out to me was supporting scientific operations during the Public Safety Power Shutoff events in 2019. My role was to facilitate the relationship between Biosciences Area researchers and their critical equipment/research needs and the Critical Incident Management Group (CIMG). My team and I helped minimize disruptions to science and ensure that researchers had what they needed. I also helped inform the CIMG team of the unique needs (e.g., research equipment, animal facilities) that needed to be monitored and maintained. During this period, I formed genuine and lasting relationships with colleagues in Security and Emergency Services, Facilities, Environment, Health & Safety, and the other science areas across the Lab. I adore and value those relationships very much, and they’ve been key to my success at the Lab over the past few years. I see the Lab as a small town where you have the opportunity to meet, collaborate, and develop meaningful relationships with talented, smart individuals throughout the broader Lab community.

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

Recognize that every assignment is an opportunity to build the foundation needed for future career advancements. Having a breadth of experience in multiple areas (e.g., pre and post-award administration, facilities management, human resources, procurement, management, relationship-building) prepared me for my current role. In addition, a strong desire and personal commitment to enabling scientific discoveries have aided in my success. I am genuinely interested in the Lab’s many research activities and want to support it as much as possible - not just for those at the Lab, but also for our broader community as a whole.

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

I think it is important to reach girls, women, and underrepresented groups in STEM as early as possible, such as through the K-12 program offerings that showcase how a career in science is an option regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, or race. Reassuring them that their skills and perspectives are needed and that there are numerous paths to a career in STEM where they can make an impactful difference.

Left: Nikki, her son Aaron, and her husband enjoying their favorite pastime. Right: Nikki and her husband at Game 1 2016 NBA Finals (Go Warriors!)