Thursday, November 10, 2011


By Karen Kelly
Norman, Okla. – A University of Oklahoma engineering graduate student has been selected to serve as the first Department of Energy Student Ambassador from OU. Christella Chavez, a doctoral student in the OU School of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s Telecommunications program in Tulsa, will work to expand the DOE’s presence on campus and connect student jobseekers with DOE job and internship opportunities.

Chavez was encouraged to apply as a Student Ambassador last summer while working at the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she was involved in building a computational model for assessing and rebuilding the telecommunications infrastructure after a major disaster interrupts operations.

Chavez considers the experience in Los Alamos “not just a career changer but a life changer.” She was impressed by the level of the DOE’s expertise, facilities and knowledge coupled with their pursuit of qualified individuals with diverse backgrounds that include not only engineering students but also those from business, law, physics, program management and foreign affairs, to name a few.

In 2008, after the plant where Chavez worked for 10 years closed, she applied and was accepted as a doctoral student in general engineering.

“Chriss’ commitment to pursuing her doctorate in engineering in the area of disaster recovery of telecommunications systems is commendable,” says Pramode Verma, adviser and director of telecommunications and professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at OU-Tulsa.

“Chriss brings a rich and diversified real-life experience, having held positions with the U.S. military, Texas Instruments, Raytheon, and the Ford Motor Co. Chriss is a natural leader, a team player, and enthusiastic about her work at the University of Oklahoma,” he said.

“She is an outstanding student who earned her bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,” said Musharraf Zaman, associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies. “We are proud of her service as a representative on our campus for the Department of Energy.”

As a DOE Ambassador, Chavez will promote job opportunities, internships and fellowships. Students can contact Chavez at or (918) 408-5643.

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