Jackie Lyra
What's one of your greatest accomplishments at JPL?
  When I was partially done with Cassini, there came an opportunity to work on another little project with this very tiny rover. My first reaction was, oh no, I love what I'm doing now. I want to stay here. But then I thought, 'Wow. Look at this project. It's a very small group of people. They do crazy stuff. They do things like they want to land on a planet. They want to use airbags. They want to take a little tiny rover there. That's impossible. I want to do that!' That little project was Mars Pathfinder, and it was just the best thing I've ever done.  
What's your advice for young people interested in STEM?
  I tell students - not only in Brazil, but in this country, too - Just look a little bit at my history. I came from a middle-class family, middle class in Brazil. I was not special in any way. My dedication to my studies, to my education, was really key early on in my life. Through my education, I found strength, I found self-confidence, and I was able to actually pursue a dream that if you look back is a little bit - it looks impossible.  
Jackie Lyra
Jackie Lyra
What's your advice for young people interested in STEM?
  I tell students - not only in Brazil, but in this country, too - Just look a little bit at my history. I came from a middle-class family, middle class in Brazil. I was not special in any way. My dedication to my studies, to my education, was really key early on in my life. Through my education, I found strength, I found self-confidence, and I was able to actually pursue a dream that if you look back is a little bit - it looks impossible.  
Jackie Lyra
What are your hobbies outside of work?
  I have pretty much two full-time jobs. I'm a full-time engineer and I build robots for a living, and I'm a full-time mom. My daughter loves when she looks at the science book and sees the rover. Since she was very little, she would say, 'That's my mom's rover.'  
Khanara Ellers at JPL
What inspired you to become an engineer?
  When I was 9 years old, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. We were not rich. We were middle class people. However, the moon walk was so important to my parents and my uncles so they pulled their funds together to buy a TV. The whole neighborhood came together and watched Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Right there and then, I said, 'This is what I want to do! I want to work on the space program!'  
What's one of your best memories at JPL?
  While I was working on the Space Shuttle Imaging Radar-C, an image showed that they had found an [undiscovered] temple in Angkor Wat in Cambodia. And this was a project that I worked on, the hardware I touched, a drawing I read. To find something from my homeland that I didn't even know about -- no one even knew about -- it was really exciting.  
Angkor, Cambodia
Angkor, Cambodia
What's one of your best memories at JPL?
  While I was working on the Space Shuttle Imaging Radar-C, an image showed that they had found an [undiscovered] temple in Angkor Wat in Cambodia. And this was a project that I worked on, the hardware I touched, a drawing I read. To find something from my homeland that I didn't even know about -- no one even knew about -- it was really exciting.  
Khanara Ellers
How do you inspire others?
  I give talks to high schools in Moreno Valley, [Calif.]. I talk to my children's friends and my friends' children and hopefully some of them get interested in STEM, science, technology, engineering and math. My message to the young ladies out there is don't be afraid to get involved in these disciplines. You can do it.  
Polly Estabrook
What got you interested in engineering?
  I grew up in a time of a lot of social unrest and the desire to contribute somehow to factoring the world or at least our country. So it was sort of this desire I had to work in something technical, but have an influence on the life of people and make a difference.  
What's the best thing about your job?
  It's working with this very dynamic, very multinational group of people to make these ideas that we all have and that they have see the light in terms of affecting our science missions or pushing forward the technology envelope. Because sometimes it takes a long time to impact a mission, but you can derive a lot of pleasure out of seeing an idea come to fruition.  
Polly Estabrook
Polly Estabrook
What's the best thing about your job?
  It's working with this very dynamic, very multinational group of people to make these ideas that we all have and that they have see the light in terms of affecting our science missions or pushing forward the technology envelope. Because sometimes it takes a long time to impact a mission, but you can derive a lot of pleasure out of seeing an idea come to fruition.  
Polly Estabrook
What do you most want your work to achieve?
  I guess there's always two parts of me. As deputy, I would love to see this technology that we've been working on ever since I came to JPL, which is optical communications, being used by missions. And on the other level, what I think is really fun is working on a mission because you're part of a team. I'd like to do something that from an engineering point of view is challenging or different.  
Rosaly Lopes
What inspires you?
  I'm essentially an explorer, so I love exploring other places on Earth as well as other planets and moons. So I love traveling, and I love traveling to volcanoes because that's my specialty. Even if I'm not traveling for work, I love going to volcanoes and hiking on volcanoes. Writing is also a hobby of mine. I have written seven books and a number of articles in magazines. I think it's a good way to communicate with the public and with young people.  
What's the best thing about your job?
  It's this opportunity to really explore planets and moons. The missions are just fabulous. They are so inspiring. After I worked on the Galileo mission, I went to work on Cassini. We had seen nothing of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan that's covered by haze and clouds, and with Cassini, we saw the surface for the first time. I had this whole new world to study the geology of.  
Saturn's moon Titan
Saturn's moon Titan
What's the best thing about your job?
  It's this opportunity to really explore planets and moons. The missions are just fabulous. They are so inspiring. After I worked on the Galileo mission, I went to work on Cassini. We had seen nothing of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan that's covered by haze and clouds, and with Cassini, we saw the surface for the first time. I had this whole new world to study the geology of.  
Rosaly Lopes
How do you inspire others?
  I give a lot of popular talks because I think it's important for young people to have role models. I do it not only in the U.S., but in other countries as well. It's good to talk to young people and go out there and tell them that yes, if you want to do this, it's a really exciting career and most of all to inspire them to pursue their dreams, whatever their dreams might be.  
Sue Finley
What got you interested in engineering?
  I went to school to learn how to be an artist so I could be an architect, because I thought I could do all the engineering part of architecture, but I didn't know how to do the art part. It turns out you can't learn art. So when I left school, I went to work looking at engineering companies. I applied at Convair in Pomona, and they put me to work as a computer with one other woman. She and I did most of the computing for these engineers just by hand on a Friden calculator.  
What's one of your best memories at JPL?
  The time I got most excited was working on tracking of the Venus Balloon. When it got to Venus, it was transmitting just a beacon tone kind of thing, and I can remember being in the control room and looking at the screen and waiting for the blip to come - waiting for the blip to come. Then when it came, I actually jumped up and down.  
Sue Finley
Sue Finley
What's one of your best memories at JPL?
  The time I got most excited was working on tracking of the Venus Balloon. When it got to Venus, it was transmitting just a beacon tone kind of thing, and I can remember being in the control room and looking at the screen and waiting for the blip to come - waiting for the blip to come. Then when it came, I actually jumped up and down.  
Sue Finley
You've been at JPL since 1957. Any plans to retire?
  No. Well, soon. I have commitments through 2016. Juno is getting to Jupiter and we're going to have tones on that, and New Horizons is getting to Pluto in 2015 and it's playing its data back in '16. So I have things to do.  
Melanie Chau-Budiman
What made you choose computer science?
  I lived in a very small town about 350 kilometers north of Saigon, where the culture very much emphasizes men, so going to college was something that I wouldn't imagine. But I always wanted to explore science and do well in math, so with that in mind, I thought computer science would be a good fit.  
What's one of your greatest achievements?
  I was the first female in the Chau's family who acquired a bachelor's degree, so it was a big deal. Even when I relate to friends and relatives who stayed behind in Vietnam that I work for JPL and explain to them what JPL does, it's a wow moment. And having me continue on to get my MBA was another wow factor.  
Melanie Chau-Budiman
Melanie Chau-Budiman
What's one of your greatest achievements?
  I was the first female in the Chau's family who acquired a bachelor's degree, so it was a big deal. Even when I relate to friends and relatives who stayed behind in Vietnam that I work for JPL and explain to them what JPL does, it's a wow moment. And having me continue on to get my MBA was another wow factor.  
Melanie Chau-Budiman
What's the best thing about your job?
  It's really the opportunity to work with a great group of people and also a great team of scientists and engineers who are at the frontier of space exploration. And also to be able to apply what I know from the administrative side of the house to automating some of the processes that make everyone's job a bit easier.  
Julie Castillo-Rogez
What do you most want your work to achieve?
  I really would like to see the CubeSat that we are building fly and go to its target and return images from the asteroid it's going to meet. That would be a big, big deal to see this happen.  
What got you interested in science?
  When I was about seven, the Voyager missions were going to the outer solar system and going by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It was a great time for planetary exploration because we got to discover new worlds. So that got me interested in planetary science in the first place.  
Julie Castillo-Rogez
Julie Castillo-Rogez
What got you interested in science?
  When I was about seven, the Voyager missions were going to the outer solar system and going by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It was a great time for planetary exploration because we got to discover new worlds. So that got me interested in planetary science in the first place.  
Julie Castillo-Rogez
What's the best thing about your job?
  I think one of the best things is to meet a lot of people in various fields. I work with scientists, of course, but I also work with a lot of engineers and technologists. And it's very exciting to work with these engineers who are developing the next generation of planetary platforms.  
Mars Science Laboratory
What do you most want your work to accomplish?
  Well my passion is for laser instruments, light shining on the surface of materials which provides all kinds of information about what's there. So a dream of mine would be to make one of these instruments, send it to another planet and discover some evidence of life.  
What are your interests outside of work?
  I have a really broad range of interests. I love the outdoors. I love traveling. I love the arts - music and art. I write music. I play music. So I think it's important to expand yourself and get involved in all kinds of things.  
Jordana Blacksberg
Jordana Blacksberg
What are your interests outside of work?
  I have a really broad range of interests. I love the outdoors. I love traveling. I love the arts - music and art. I write music. I play music. So I think it's important to expand yourself and get involved in all kinds of things.  
Jordana Blacksberg
What's your advice for young women interested in the sciences?
  I would tell other young women coming up into science and engineering that if they're interested in it and if they're passionate about it, that's the most important thing no matter what anyone thinks or says. The main thing is to do something you love.  
Kimberly Shepard
What inspires you?
  For the projects I manage, I always keep it in the back of my mind that if we could build Curiosity and land it on Mars with everything going so well, certainly here on Earth, supporting JPL, our IT projects need to be equally successful.  
What's the best thing about your job?
  As a musician, I found myself working when everyone else was playing and now I can be one of those people who can play in the evenings and weekends, whether it's music or horse competitions. And the other thing is that JPL is full of people who do these amazing jobs, these amazing things, but also have so many other interests. So there's always someone who has an intriguing interest or a shared interest.  
Kimberly Shepard
Kimberly Shepard
What's the best thing about your job?
  As a musician, I found myself working when everyone else was playing and now I can be one of those people who can play in the evenings and weekends, whether it's music or horse competitions. And the other thing is that JPL is full of people who do these amazing jobs, these amazing things, but also have so many other interests. So there's always someone who has an intriguing interest or a shared interest.  
Kimberly Shepard
What's your advice for young people interested in STEM?
  I think it's important for people to be curious, to take opportunities to learn. There's so much information available now, so when you ask a question inside your head, find the answer. Look to people who are passionate about what they do, and be open to them sharing that passion and their interest with you.