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Women's History Month Profile: Djuna Gulliver

Women in STEM Bring New Thoughts, Creativity for Innovation

Djuna Gulliver has worked as a research scientist for the Research & Innovation Center at NETL since 2009. Her expertise is in geomicrobiology in energy and energy-impacted environments. She is currently analyzing the microbial communities in various systems, such as hydrogen storage reservoirs, carbon storage reservoirs, shale gas reservoirs, acid mine drainage and coalbed methane reservoirs.

She is also developing biological technologies to upgrade unused resources (such as carbon dioxide, syngas or unmineable coal) into value-added products. She utilizes next-generation sequencing coupled with bioinformatic analysis to characterize the abundant microbial taxonomy, potential metabolic capability and microbial activity of these natural and engineered systems.

Djuna earned a doctorate in environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, geology and geophysics from the University of Minnesota. 

She is a mother of a newborn son with Down syndrome and a 3-year-old daughter. Outside of work, she teaches and performs for Iron City Circus Arts.

Djuna recently took time to answer a few questions about the role of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Why is it important that women are equally represented in STEM fields?

Women represent 50% of the population. When women are not equally represented in STEM, we are missing opportunities for new thought and creativity; this inhibits innovation in every STEM field. And since innovation leads to more innovation, this can have broad-reaching consequences.

What is one highlight of your career at NETL that you would like to share?

Every time a study by our geomicrobiology research group is published, it feels like such a win. It is amazing how much work goes into a 10-page manuscript, and finally, it is out there for the public to see.

What is one of your future career goals?

I am still hoping to set up a curated database with all our DNA sequencing and metadata that allows easy access for other institutions. Right now, our data is buried in a combination of large online public databases that have no particular targeted audience. If we were able to curate a database of our own, each institution could frequent the database and easily pull our data without having to embark on a lengthy search and compare our DNA sequences with their DNA sequences. This will help with the overall understanding of geomicrobiology in different energy systems. 


Djuna Gulliver