Seeing CWEEL: Maura Appleberry

Maura described her previous roles and professional journey below:

I began my junior year of high school doing battery research after school at a university in my hometown. I focused on enabling renewable energy through improved battery technology, the same motivation that has continued today. I completed seven internships in many areas through college, from business development teams to research labs. My goal was to collect as many experiences and skills as possible to communicate many aspects of the renewable energy business. Once graduating, I began working at a small start-up firm from Greentown Labs, Gridspan Energy, aiming to develop networks of plug-and-play, containerized energy storage systems for resilient island energy. As one of 3 engineers, I worked to design and commission our pilot system in Anguilla.

Most importantly, I learned how constrained funding and impact technology development is, and after 1.5 years at Gridspan Energy, I began a Battery Lab Engineer role at Titan Advanced Energy Solutions (Titan). Titan is focused on developing battery diagnostic tools using ultrasound, enabling battery 2nd life and improving safety detection while batteries are in use. In 10 months, I was promoted to the Team Lead of the Battery Lab and, nine months after that, a Technical Product Manager. Always reaching for understanding more about IP development, product development, and team management, I found it straightforward to flex into these roles. Through R&D work funded by the DoE and in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, I realized I needed to pursue higher education to advance battery technology so that I could understand the fundamental science. This Fall, I will begin a PhD program in Chemical Engineering at UCSD to study batteries.

Despite seemingly a natural progression into my current role, I have dealt with sexism at every step. When I was presenting my research in high school, a judge confronted me, questioning the validity of my research, saying, "there's no way a girl like you did this research." Then and at many points, I considered whether I was right to pursue my goals in energy technology. In Anguilla, I got asked why I don't wear earrings and dress more femininely. In many roles, I've been asked to smile and whether I am experiencing female biological conditions (pregnancy, menstruation) as a reason for standing up for myself in meetings. It's been a constant challenge to be sure of myself, but I believe I'm improving. At a virtual CWEEL workshop, we discussed how the language we use to describe ourselves in business strongly impacts how we feel about our strengths and capabilities. I'll continue to lean into women resource groups in energy and environment to share experiences, talk shop, and hopefully, one day, be a mentor.

In the words of her nominator, "Maura is committed to both technical leadership and creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture. While working to extend the life of EV batteries (ultrasound battery management systems and thermal runaway failure detection), she never sacrifices her own values or engineering ethics to accomplish her goals. She is a brilliant engineer and thoughtful leader with a passion for learning and improving."


More from Maura:

What achievements, projects, or presentations  are you proud of?
This spring, I published a paper on Titan's research on detecting battery fires using ultrasound. I spent 6 months working mostly on weekends to complete and publish my first research paper!


What is the best advice you received as a woman in energy?
To write down things you are unhappy with at your current role, and form questions to identify these things in future roles. That way, experiencing things that are not preferred (such as non representation of women and minorities in management or negative company culture) can be prevented in the future.

What is something unique that can not be known about you from your resume?
I trained for and ran a marathon on my own to see if I could train and test my brain in perseverance. I ran a course around the city of Boston.