Yadira Gilchrest, a senior computer scientist at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, was recently named a winner of Women of Color magazine’s Technology Rising Star award. The award recognizes minority women who have demonstrated exceptional achievements in their workplace and communities. Gilchrest currently works in NUWC’s sensors and sonars systems department, where she’s particularly interested in studying the effects of undersea testing on marine species. She holds a B.S. and an M.S. in mathematics from University of Central Florida.
PBN: Can you walk us through a typical day on the job?
GILCHREST: A typical day [begins with] checking in with the analysis team. We update each other on the status of current and upcoming analysis tasks. Throughout the day I meet with subject-matter experts as necessary to complete the tasks. I access environmental databases and create plots of the environmental data, run raytraces and propagation-loss models. Once a task is completed, graphics, analysis and conclusions are put into either a PowerPoint brief or a technical document. The results are then briefed to the customers.
PBN: What’s the significance of your current research, and why is it important to you?
GILCHREST: My current research topics are focused on the performance of submarine sonar systems. I work on analysis tasks that help determine the functionality of array systems in different ocean environments. I model the sonar systems in various environments to also help in the test and evaluation of hardware and software updates provided to the fleet.
PBN: Growing up, did you always think you’d wind up in a technology-oriented field?
GILCHREST: My original major at [University of Central Florida] was chemistry with a minor in mathematics because I wanted to go to medical school. After taking a logic and proof class, I realized that there was more to math than calculus. I spoke to professors about careers with a mathematics degree and switched my major. I volunteer for outreach programs in hopes of motivating the students into the sciences and mathematics [fields]. I want to show them that you can have fun with math. •