Partner Profile: Dr. Nicole Mendoza

Fred Mason.jpeg

"Don't let others stand in your way or tell you what you can't do. Achieve what you want to achieve and what you believe in, even if no one else in the room looks or thinks like you."

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 - October 15), this issue features Dr. Nicole Mendoza, Senior Researcher in Wind Energy Systems at National Renewable Energy Laboratory & Chief Technology Officer at SkyBaron

Dr. Mendoza, who identifies as both Hispanic and Latina, works primarily in offshore floating and onshore wind energy systems and systems engineering. She is a 2020 Environmental Entrepreneurs 1 Hotels Fellow and Emerging Leader, and her fellowship project focused on supporting small businesses in carbon capture and utilization. She has also won multiple scholarships and awards while completing her PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. For her dedication and extensive volunteering, she received the 2018 New Volunteer of the Year Award from Wildlands Restoration Volunteers. She is a passionate champion for women and minorities in STEM and renewable energy, diversity and inclusion, and saving the planet. 

In a previous interview, you said that you have been an environmentalist since third grade, when you won an environmental poster contest. What drives your interest in the environment?

I grew up with a strong appreciation for the incredible wonders and majesty of nature, and I highly value biodiversity and the complex web/fabric of life. It is worth protecting, preserving, and conserving because we share living space and resources with the vast variety of flora and fauna in this one world together. My 3rd grade poster was of a vibrant, diverse rainforest with the message "When we pollute, everyone suffers from it!". 

What are your predictions for the future of Carbon Capture and Utilization? 

Changing the global mindset from "CO2 is a gigantic global problem" to "CO2 is a gigantic global resource" is the core of my passion around CCU. Leveraging the powerful economic forces of supply and demand, I firmly believe that we can utilize CO2 sustainably and create sustainable products while saving the planet. The biggest challenges to overcome are speed and scale. We need all of the technologies in this space to scale up as quickly as possible to avoid hitting the 1.5 degree C threshold within the next five years. If we can accomplish that together, then the CCU industry can make a significant positive impact on climate change.

As a Latina, do you think you have run into different obstacles than non-Latinas in this field? If so, how did you overcome them?

Yes, to a certain degree. I am very "fiery," "feisty," and "spicy", as Latinas are commonly stereotyped to be. This has led to me being excluded from meetings, not being given a seat at the table, or perceived as causing friction. To overcome these stereotypes, I have improved my emotional intelligence skills to remain who I am and be authentic while employing better social tactics and language to achieve the same outcomes with less friction. I'm constantly learning and improving.

I expect you have had to put in a lot of hours and deal with many obstacles to get where you are. What inspires you to do what you do every day?

I have an inner fire that burns every day with passion for helping the planet and helping others in need. I also try to live my life such that if I were to die tomorrow, I could say that I have lived my life to the fullest and have had as big of a positive impact on the world as I possibly can. "So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be (Wonder Woman 2017)".

What advice do you have for others, especially those from groups who might be currently underrepresented in your field, who are interested in doing similar work?

Don't let others stand in your way or tell you what you can't do. Make and define your own success. Achieve what you want to achieve and what you believe in, even if no one else in the room looks or thinks like you. Stand up for what you value, despite a lack of people like yourself. If you lack a role model, strive to become one. Build a strong support network and community to give yourself confidence and support on your journey. Be sure to acknowledge the support you received on your journey to success, for success is rarely accomplished alone.

What do you wish I would have asked you?

That's a great question! How about "What do you think it will take to successfully fight climate change?" Climate change is arguably the biggest and most important challenge facing this generation and the next. We need all hands on deck and we need all technological and natural solutions. We need everyone to do their part, even if it's small, to help fight climate change. I donate a significant amount of time helping to inspire the next generation to pursue meaningful and fulfilling careers in renewable energy and sustainability (including CCU). If there's anything I can do to help inspire you to do so, please let me know and I'll do my best to help.

News in a Nutshell

Can carbon capture technology save the planet?

Hint: Direct Air Capture, and any type of CO2 capture, has a much better chance of becoming a viable commercial industry if we treat the captured CO2 as a valuable resource, from which we can make usefuland profitableproducts.

How direct air capture can help countries tackle climate change

$3.6 million DOE grant to support direct air carbon capture research

Chart and FLSmidth to collaborate on carbon capture that targets over 90% removal of CO2 emissions from cement production

Australia to become leader in carbon capture says CSIRO report

Carbon removal technology reaches early milestone

Australia's Calix snares backing for carbon capture technology

We need to remove emissions at a major scale: Is carbon capture the answer?

Geothermal energy could be generated from captured CO2, study shows

Imminent Events

Foundation for Climate Restoration’s Annual Global Climate Restoration Forum

Stop on the Road to Glasgow: COP26

October 1

GCI Director, Volker Sick, will join Kumi Naidoo and Kye Young for a fireside chat to discuss COP26. They will dig into why everyone is talking about it, the significance, the challenges and how this is different from previous years. For more information or to register, click here.

19th Peter M. Wege Lecture Featuring Gina McCarthy: Just and Sustainable Climate Solutions

October 14

This engaging conversation with Gina McCarthy, the country’s first National Climate Advisor, is organized by SEAS. It will be moderated by Tony Reames, Senior Advisor: Office of Economic Impact and Diversity U.S. Department of Energy, and it will be followed by a Q&A with Kyle Whyte, White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. For more information or to register for free tickets, click here.

We have a favor to ask. If you have not already filled out this 5-question survey regarding your experience with the Global CO2 Initiative, could you please do it now? It will take two minutes or less. Thank you!

Keep in touch

We want to hear from you! Is there something or someone that you would like to see featured in a future issue? Let us know!

Visit our website
Twitter  LinkedIn  YouTube
LinkedIn Share This Email