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Diane J. Graziano

Chemical Engineer

Argonne National Laboratory

HQ Phone:  (630) 252-2000

Direct Phone: (630) ***-****direct phone

Email: g***@***.gov

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Argonne National Laboratory

9700 South Cass Avenue

Lemont, Illinois, 60439

United States

Company Description

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne r...more

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Background Information

Employment History

Deputy Division Director

American Nuclear Society Incorporated

Research Supervisor, Senior Engineer

Amoco Chemicals Company

Web References(3 Total References)

Matthew Riddle and Diane Graziano of the Argonne National Laboratory also contributed to the research.

Equal Opportunity Publications - Article Page - Woman Engineer

Diane Graziano,
Energy And Sustainability Analyst, Argonne National Laboratory Although the economic downturn has slowed down employment in the chemical engineering field, Diane Graziano still sees this profession as vital to the future and a great opportunity for women. "Chemical engineers are uniquely qualified to contribute to the green economy-in energy, environment, and chemical fields," she declares. Adding a biofocus, many projects in the growing health and medical industries will continue to need chemical engineering perspectives. "The human body is like a chemical plant," Graziano explains, "with material and energy flows, pumps, pipes, reactors, heat exchangers, chemical kinetics, diffusion, thermodynamics..." National security is another area where chemical engineers make significant contributions and will be needed in the future. "Now that women are currently outnumbering men in college enrollments, the necessity for more women to enter engineering fields is critical," she states. When commenting on the differences Graziano observes in men and women's approaches to engineering challenges, she says, "I'd like to agree with generalities about women being better team players, communicators, listeners, and multitaskers. But these traits aren't shared by all women, and I've met many talented male engineers who excel in these capabilities." Graziano, who has earned her PhD, is a chemical engineer whose position is most aptly described as energy and sustainability analyst. The end goal of her research is to promote the widespread adoption of sustainable energy practices and technologies. For now, she focuses on the production and use of biofuels. "By running these simulations under different scenarios," Graziano explains, "we can illuminate how a regionally dependent, complex system like the biofuels value chain might evolve from the ground up in response to regulatory and market environments. With this added insight, we can identify investments and policies that will promote the market adoption of biofuels." Entering the college of engineering at Purdue University without a vocational plan, she enrolled in a freshman engineering lecture course that expanded her horizons: engineers working in industry shared their knowledge about various disciplines. She was first taken with the idea of nuclear engineering-a later seminar on chemical engineering intrigued Graziano. She was curious about the many industries that utilize the skills of chemical engineers and fascinated by how those skills were being applied to a wide range of projects. Participation in a cooperative educational program crystallized her choice. In her second assignment, Graziano ran simulations of a distillation tower and participated in a commercial plant test that confirmed her results. "A really incredible opportunity for a 19 year-old-student! she remembers. That program gave her the opportunity to work for five semesters for the research and development department at Amoco Chemicals Company. Returning to Purdue in order to complete a bachelor's of science degree in chemical engineering, she applied for the Winston Churchill Scholarship, and then forgot about it during the intensity of senior-year studies. "While studying for spring semester finals, I received a call from the Churchill Foundation informing me that I had won the scholarship," Graziano relates. At the time, still deciding between job offers in industry and graduate school in the United States, she realized this incredible opportunity to study at the University of Cambridge in England could not be ignored. "Coincidentally, the summer prior, I had backpacked in Europe, sat on the banks of the Cam River in Kings College on an unusually sunny day, and joked with my friend that someday I would be back as a student," Graziano remembers. During her scholarship year, she researched the rheology of liquid crystal polymers. Her advisor, a faculty member new to the university, was seeking graduate students. Together, they secured funding from Imperial Chemicals Inc. to support the young American's doctorate research. "Advanced degrees are important for careers in research and development," she says and because she enjoyed her co-op experiences so much, Graziano decided to pursue her doctorate degree to keep doors open for future work in research and development (R&D). After graduating with her PhD from Cambridge, she returned to Amoco Chemicals and worked another ten years. Following the birth of her second child, Graziano made the choice to switch from full-time to part-time work and also to pursue her desire to conduct research focused to improve the environment. Procuring a part-time position at Argonne National Laboratory, she worked for several years in materials and spent nuclear fuels recycling, conducting economic, design, market, and life cycle analysis studies. When offered the opportunity to serve as the deputy director of the chemical engineering division at Argonne, Graziano took on the responsibility to co-lead a 200-plus employee division working in the diverse areas of catalysis, batteries, fuel cells, hydrogen, nuclear fuel reprocessing, radioactive waste management, and others important to energy and national security. In her recent return to research, Graziano's been able to combine her interests in sustainability, the challenges of complexity, and expertise in chemical engineering to develop new programs for the Laboratory. For example, an ineffective female tendency, one that I need to work hard to overcome, is the use of qualifiers when making a statement: 'Although I'm not an expert, I think...'or 'I may be wrong, but...' In my experience, however," Graziano continues, "these subtleties are usually overcome and replaced with sincere respect for the individual's contributions and capabilities." "I know that their insights have helped me make smarter choices," Graziano says. They have also supported her during difficult periods when her doubts were silenced by their confidence in her. As a beneficiary of mentoring, she has reached out to mentor others and has nurtured several co-mentoring relationships. "I try not to give direct advice, but to serve more as a sounding board, providing encouragement, listening, and guiding them to discover their own solutions," she notes. As a participant in formal mentoring programs, she finds informal opportunities easier to come by and more relaxed. "My career has been shaped in unexpected ways by following my interests, taking advantage of opportunities, and seeking work-life balance," she remarks. "Throughout, I was guided by my career goals to add substantive value to missions I enthusiastically support, to interact with talented people, to be challenged, and to take on responsibilities commensurate with my capabilities. To date, the chemical engineer's career path has involved her in projects at all stages of R&D from concept to commercialization, covering a wide range of technologies and research areas with the opportunity to achieve as an individual contributor, team player, team leader, supervisor, and manager. "With many career years ahead of me, I'm excited about the career path and possibilities still to come," Graziano concludes.

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