Teresa advises developers and investors of utility-scale solar projects as a consultant with Leidos Engineering. On any given day, she may be touring a PV module testing facility, discussing solar resource variability with lenders, or modeling the energy production of a PV power plant based on design documents. A life‑long environmentalist, she has worked and published in the fields of life cycle assessment, manufacturing, and robotics before finding her calling in renewable energy. She holds degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT (B.S.) and U.C. Berkeley (M.S. and Ph.D.).
How long have you been a WEN member?
I joined WEN as soon as I heard about it, less than a year ago. Having lived in the Bay Area for nearly 10 years, it goes to show that new opportunities may pop up at any time!
What do you like best about being part of WEN?
I certainly appreciate being a part of a like-minded community of women given the male-dominated nature of so many of our work environments. However, it’s the diversity of WEN that most impresses me. I’ve met women with deep knowledge of incredibly disparate aspects of our environment – fishery researchers, marketing gurus, community organizers – as well as women representing all ages, cultures, and personalities. I especially appreciated meeting a mechanical engineer a decade or two my senior, who undoubtedly helped pave the path for me, as I hope to do for others.
Tell us more about yourself.
I was born in China and raised in Upstate New York. Living at the intersection of two cultures exposed me to the impacts our consumption in a very tangible way. As a kid, I remember taking a shower at my grandmother’s house in China after watching plumes of black smoke emanating from the nearby coal‑fired boiler building, the source of our hot water supply. I’ve been composting, reusing, repurposing, and taking quick showers ever since.
What are some of your other activities?
I love commuting, grocery shopping, and exploring by bicycle. One of my favorite trips was riding with my (now) husband on a tandem, with many friends on bicycles, to our wedding. Since four bicyclists were hit and killed by drivers in my neighborhood (SOMA) in the last year alone, I’ve taken to regularly writing local leadership about the need for safer bicycle infrastructure, unbiased police handling of incidents involving bicycles, and better public transportation.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
For me, it would have to be overpopulation, with climate change, water supply, and environmental toxicity being the most pressing issues stemming from overpopulation. Most people are familiar with the benefits of solar power in terms of reducing climate change emissions, but I see the tremendous water saving benefits of photovoltaic sources of power as even more immediately critical for us in the arid west. We use a lot of power to pump our water such long distances, and in turn, we use a lot of water to operate the cooling towers for traditional thermal sources of power!
I’m also very concerned about the toxicity of waste products from mining, manufacturing, and especially fracking. My family lives over the Marcellus Shale Formation and it’s outrageous that identifying (let alone quantifying) the chemicals being pumped into the ground is still only optional in most of the country.