Meet Denise Williams-Harris, our February featured Military Spouse in STEM! Denise is a chemist with a passion for applied chemistry research and inclusive STEM education. A mentor, adjunct instructor, tutor, and researcher, Denise gained a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a dual B.S. in Chemistry and Forensic Science from the University of New Haven.
Was there a special moment growing up that inspired you to pursue your STEM field?
My family has been the foundation of my inspiration. I was fortunate to be raised by parents who both had engineering degrees and chose to expose all of their children to various STEM disciplines and professionals. They brought us to their jobs, signed us up for one-day workshops, and seasonal camps. My parents and extended family not only exposed me to STEM but also inspired and encouraged my personal STEM pursuits.
This foundation provided by my family has allowed me to be engaged with and inspired by the stories and lives of the STEM professionals, peers, and students that I have encountered.
Reading, cooking, and spending time with my spouse and family.
Prince George’s County, Maryland.
What is your current duty station? What do you enjoy most about this location?
Fort Gordon, GA. (Unfortunately, I have only been here with COVID and have thus not taken the risk to explore the location as much as I would have liked to.)
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the stories of mission-driven people. We all have work that we must do to support our lifestyles, but why we have chosen to work in our certain fields and on certain projects is often encouraged by some selfless pursuit. I like hearing about why people choose their paths and how they manage to navigate the unplanned events of life along the way.
What do you appreciate about your work environment?
I am fortunate to be able to primarily work from home at the moment. The COVID-19 pandemic conditions have allowed me time to analyze what I should and should not have in my workspace. So, my current work environment is a bit more productive than before. I do miss working in the lab and seeing people face-to-face more regularly, but I, fortunately, work with people who are willing to do video calls so that we can communicate more directly.
How can professional organizations like the Society for Military Spouses in STEM help you with your career or professional goals?
Professional organizations that serve as platforms for support, networking, and job boards have been very helpful.
What advice would you give new spouses on entering or finding success in STEM career fields?
Be flexible, be enterprising, and network!
Do you recommend any go-to professional organizations, educational opportunities, job resources, or helping agencies that have supported your career growth?
I actually keep and update a list of resources on my personal website: https://denisenw.wordpress.com/resources-for-scientists-future-scientists/