Sarah
Torkamani:
Reaching out and lifting up

Behind the energy

Ever since I was a little girl, as my grandma always reminds me, I wanted to be a scientist and wanted to help the planet.

Since those early days, I’ve had a unique life journey living and studying overseas before moving back to the U.S. to continue my research as a chemical and environmental engineer. Throughout it all, I have enjoyed being part of a diverse and creative group of thinkers who bring new ideas to each challenge.

At ExxonMobil, I assess the emissions of various energy products throughout their life cycles. Take biodiesel, for example. Before it’s blended into diesel, it begins as a biomaterial that can be produced from agricultural residue such as corn stover (the leftovers of corn cultivation, such as corncobs, stalks and leaves) and other biomass. To properly analyze its greenhouse gas footprint, we must calculate emissions from each life cycle stage, from farming and harvesting the corn stover to transporting it to the processing facility to making the biodiesel and delivering it all along the supply chain.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by passionate female and male researchers from all backgrounds who are devoted to this pressing work. And in my experience, the more diverse a group is, the more creative our solution will be.

That’s why I took on the role of co-president of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering’s Women’s Interest Network (WIN) – to inspire and mentor the next generation of women across ExxonMobil.

Promoting inclusion and diversity is a very personal part of my professional life, because I have benefited from committed mentors who have supported me in crucial stages of my life. And, in that spirit, I have tried to pay it forward with others. During my university days, a smart undergraduate student was debating whether to pursue a Ph.D. in biotechnology or enter the workforce. During that time of uncertainty, I invited her to join me in the lab for some time, and she ended up with me for months, excelling in the lab.

She completed her Ph.D. and today is working on health-related water microbiology.

All it took was a bit of motivation. And, while no one person can solve the global challenge of providing clean water, she has added a new voice in that pursuit.

Likewise, no one person can solve the challenges we face in providing more energy while addressing the risks of climate change. And, while my childhood goals of helping the planet remain unchanged, I know that work can only succeed with a diverse team that seeks new approaches.

Tags:   Behind the energyengineerExxonMobil Research and Engineering’s Women’s Interest Network (WIN)women in stem
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