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WISE Presents: Emerging from a Pandemic - Women’s Journeys in STEM

September 22, 2021 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Join us for an intimate discussion with three women in diverse STEM fields, as they share valuable lessons gained from the pandemic. Each panelist will describe their professional experience with the pandemic, how it has affected their work, and their personal growth. Following the discussion and Q & A, we’ll play a fun game of STEM jeopardy with the opportunity to win prizes!

Recording of Event


Blanca Hoffmeier

Blanca Hoffmeier

President and Owner of SWPPP CAL - CSUN Alumna

Blanca Hoffmeier is President and Owner of SWPPP CAL, a storm water pollution prevention company headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Ca. Her professional experience includes many areas of expertise in civil engineering in both the public and private sectors. She has decades of experience in grading, street design, hydrology, hydraulic studies, land planning and storm water management. Blanca is a private pilot and certified by the FAA to fly drones commercially. She was an early adopter of drone technology and retains a fleet of 5 drones each uniquely capable to assist with topography, archeology studies, agriculture, construction documentation, stormwater inspections and more.

She is currently the President of the Society of Women Engineers, San Buenaventura Section, and a member of the National Association of Women in Construction, as well as a member of the International Erosion Control Association.

Blanca has published articles on erosion control and the use of drones. She is a Qualified Stormwater Developer and Practitioner. A Certified Inspector and Certified Professional in Sediment and Erosion Control. She is also a Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality and has her LEED AP certification.

Blanca’s recent focus on water quality originates from her passion for protecting the future of our lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans and keeping them healthy for our wildlife and our children.

Andrea Koumvakalis

Andrea Koumvakalis

Ph.D., Technical Fellow at The Boeing Company

Andrea recently retired at the end of July as a Technical Fellow at Boeing, after 33 years with the company. Her expertise includes high energy lasers, laser beam diagnostics, and optical payloads for space application.

Andrea grew up in Germany, and after graduating from a language oriented high school, decided to join a friend and study Physics, with very little background in science but a love of math. As she was finishing her Master’s degree in Engineering Physics, she was invited by a visiting UCLA professor, Malcolm Nicol, to work at UCLA for one year. As they say - the rest is history! Andrea finished her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, married to Nicholas and mother of two little boys, Philip and Erik.

She joined Rocketdyne/now Boeing and was able to work part-time for many years while her sons were in elementary and middle school. Throughout the years, Andrea has always enjoyed her job, being part of research and development teams; the projects she worked on were mostly state-of-the-art, ground-breaking, or even mind-blowing new technologies. Her most recent project before the pandemic was the design, installation and management of a laser comm ground station at the AEOS facility on Haleakala, Maui, and associated missions and communicating with the space terminal in low earth orbit.

Her work included a lot of travel, and for the past 10 years a long commute to El Segundo. The pandemic and transition to work from home prompted a re-evaluation of priorities and her decision to retire.

Jess Phoenix

Jess Phoenix

Geologist, Explorer, & Science Evangelist

Jess Phoenix is Executive Director and co-founder of environmental scientific research organization Blueprint Earth. She is a volcanologist, an extreme explorer, and former candidate for United States Congress. Her expertise is in volcanic hazards. Her work has taken her to six continents, where she has organized and led over 25 scientific research expeditions. She has been chased by narco-traffickers in Mexico, dodged armed thieves in remote Peru, raced horses across Mongolia, worked on the world’s largest volcano in Hawaii, piloted the Jason2 submersible on an undersea volcano, and rappelled into the 3rd largest sinkhole on Earth.

Jess is a Fellow in The Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society, as well as a frequent contributor for CNN and the BBC. Jess co-host Discovery Channel’s new series Hunting Atlantis, where she and her co-host travel the world in search of the lost city of Atlantis. Jess is the author of Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life from Timber Press. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Carlos, teenager Kaz, and 12 rescue animals.

Moderated By

  • Laurene Abato-Earwood
  • Laura Nowatzki Bilek
  • Rashmi Shah