Rebecca Venegas

An outdoor portrait photograph of Rebecca Venegas.
I am proud and excited to represent Latinas in STEM.

What does a typical day at the Laboratory look like for you?

My research focuses on integrating and characterizing various laser and sensor systems, typically out of our Advanced Technology R&D area. A typical day includes working with hardware, either on an alignment or sensor characterization; collecting data on a real-time system like an oscilloscope or spectrum analyzer, or on a data recorder for post-processing; and throwing in a smattering of MATLAB for data analysis and modeling. I work on both large and small teams, always filled with incredibly knowledgeable peers coming together to tackle each challenge until we find success.

Are you involved in any employee resource groups or outreach programs?

I am currently participating in the HLN [Hispanic/Latinx Network] and LEAN [Lincoln Employees African American Network] Buddy Program, in which interns of underrepresented identities in STEM are paired with Lab staff volunteers with similar cultural experiences. We act as a resource for the interns to help them thrive and feel connected to their work at the Lab and beyond. I am proud and excited to represent Latinas in STEM.

How did you become interested in STEM and electro-optics?

My original field of study at MIT was aeronautics and astronautics, inspired by my watching shuttle launches from my backyard in Orlando, Florida. However, while working at Lockheed Martin, Missiles and Fire Control, I discovered my passion for electro-optics and decided to pursue an MS degree in optics and photonics from UCF CREOL [University of Central Florida College of Optics and Photonics]. I love the physics behind converting electrons to photons, propagating these photons through lenses and atmospherics and back to be converted into electrons again to transmit data, interrogate targets, or get high-resolution imagery.  

What are some of your hobbies?

I would call myself an avid enthusiast for the fantasy genre. I am such a fan of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy that I went to New Zealand for my honeymoon. I love to play any form of board game, including card games like Magic the Gathering. I also play and run games of Dungeons and Dragons and am currently participating in four different campaigns, two of which I am running as the Dungeon Master. I love introducing new players to the game and even hope to start some kind of after-hours group within the Lab for anyone who wants to play, of all experience levels!