May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to recognize their achievements and celebrating the community’s rich, diverse heritages and contributions to society. The following are profiles of Battelle employees who share their thoughts on their heritage, culture and work.
Hongyan Luo, Research Scientist, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
Three words I would use to describe myself are easygoing, engaged and organized. Outside work, I love cooking, gardening, and outdoor activities.
I focus on the Earth’s surface/atmosphere exchange. My career path began with my grandfather, who was an engineer in the forest department in my hometown. He often asked me to assist him plant and maintain flowers and trees when I was a child. Along the process, he explained to me some basic science knowledge about soil, climate, insects, and plants, and how they interact with each other. That inspired my early interest in plants and the environment, which led me to make the decision to go to college to study forestry, pursue a PhD in ecology, and become a biometeorologist.
What attracted me to NEON most was its mission to establish the largest ecological network in the world with standardized instruments, operations, and data formats to enable understanding and forecasting of climate change, land use change, and invasive species in continental-scale ecology. With years of experience working in different climate zones and ecosystems in different research institutes and networks, I understood how important this is to the ecology community and to humanity’s future. I believed my enthusiasm and knowledge could make some contributions. When I was offered the job as a scientist in 2009, I was very excited and knew that it was the opportunity for me to join my NEON colleagues to strive toward that big goal together.
Celebrating AAPI Heritage helps me to further embrace and honor my own Asian culture and history and being proud of who I will always be. I also encourage my five-year-old twins to speak Chinese at home, tell them Chinese stories, talk about Chinese culture and history, and make Chinese cuisines with them together at home. America is a big melting pot that blends all cultures together, and every culture is a critical component of the American society. Remembering your own culture and learning other cultures will help people to understand and respect others, uplift culture diversity, reduce racism, and create a better society.
Satya Chauhan, Battelle Senior Program Director and 2020 Battelle Inventor of the Year
Three terms I would use to describe myself are innovative, persistent and team worker.
I learned mathematics from my father at an early age, which made me choose a science and technology (S&T) career right after middle school. My father was a hard worker, but often took time after a long day of work to teach me math and English.
The biggest reason I joined Battelle right after getting my PhD in early 1974 was that it had just announced a major internal research and development program in energy research, on the heels of the first oil embargo. Another key reason was Battelle’s new focus on developing environmentally friendly alternative energy technologies and products, also on the heels of the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
My extensive (12 years) college education and the vast majority of my work at Battelle, both as a research leader and a manager, has been focused on S&T. My own research work and associated patents are primarily focused on key societal needs, namely: green/sustainable energy, products, and processes; treatment/recycle/reuse of; and minimizing waste creation and disposal. I am passionate about creating/inventing new processes/products/technologies and taking the same to commercial use.
In my 49+ years at Battelle, I have seen great progress in promoting diversity on a variety of dimensions. The AAPI Heritage Month observance is another well-deserved celebration of diversity at Battelle.
Jeffrey Lau, (he/him/his), Battelle Senior Computer Engineer
The three words I would use to describe myself are curious, charming, and Christian.
My dad is a nuclear physicist by trade and a teacher to his very core. He taught me and my sister to love all things STEM through books, especially Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections, and his excited retelling of the books and documentaries he was digesting. He taught us that everything can be explained through intertwining stories and my nurtured curiosity drove me into an exciting career in cybersecurity!
Battelle continues to surprise me with its commitment to curiosity. The culture at Battelle puts its money where its mouth is to grow curiosity in new things and expertise in known things–all in the pursuit of using science in the service of society. Working at Battelle has been enjoyably challenging because we are given the tools, training, and mentorship to set out, explore and mature new ideas in uncharted territories.
Celebrating AAPI Heritage is mainly an avenue to introduce my coworkers and friends to new foods. It also is an opportunity to remember and express gratitude to previous generations for the hardships they endured and the rights they fought for. It is also a time for me to step out of my comfort zone and learn about the injustices that the AAPI community faces today and all of the ways that we can continue to unite in solidarity.
Robe Zhang, (he/his/himself), Battelle Computer Engineer
Three words I would use to describe myself are jubilant, introverted and gritty.
As my sister and I were growing up, my parents were quite busy so they kept us occupied with a laptop. Beginning with creating funny animated Power Points to eventually diving into the massively multiplayer online gaming world of Gielinor during the golden years of RuneScape, I eventually scoured the internet for AutoHotKey scripts to automate tedious in-game tasks. We had to wipe and reimage our laptop countless times until eventually I decided to write my own scripts.
I first heard about Battelle at CSAW, a student-run cyber security event competition hosted at New York University. I was interested in a career path in cybersecurity and Battelle's Cyber Academy program is really attractive. The work at Battelle is challenging and it keeps me engaged. Battelle being a nonprofit organization and giving back to the STEM community aligns with my personal values. I benefited from such programs and am super happy to contribute back.
For me, celebrating AAPI Heritage Month means reflecting on the challenges and hardships of being a first-generation Asian American of parents who immigrated to the United States for the purpose of a better life. It is learning how to navigate the cultural melting pot of New York City and learning how to embrace differences and love the two cultures. It was drilled into me from a young age that hard work and a strong work ethic will lead to success. It is the pressure of following such values and being blessed with countless opportunities to eventually reap the benefits of sacrifices made by two generations.