UC Riverside PhD Candidate Jacqueline Garrido shares her world-spanning experiences in transport research

Meet UC Riverside PhD Student Jacqueline Garrido!

Jacqueline Garrido shown at graduation at the University of Cambridge and at Solarthon in Menlo Park
Left: Jacqueline's graduation from the University of Cambridge
Right: Jacqueline volunteered at the 2017 Menlo Park Solarthon event

Nobody exemplifies UC Riverside’s alma mater—”twixt mount and desert…old Scots near and far”—quite like Jacqueline Garrido. A Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering, Jacqueline has traveled from mountains to desert, from university to the private sector, developing her talents and unique perspectives along the way.

Jacqueline grew up in Santiago on the west side of the Chilean Andes. Her parents emphasized the importance of her education: her father by teaching mathematics, and her mother by doing creative projects with her. Jacqueline went on to study mechanical engineering at Federico Santa María Technical University. She soon fell in love with the subject, becoming an intern at Nestlé and the liquified natural gas terminal at GNL Quintero at Valparaíso. 

Through funding from Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research, Jacqueline was able to move to the United Kingdom and pursue a Masters in Science for Energy Technologies at the University of Cambridge in 2014. Achieving this in just a year, Jacqueline then became an assistant Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition engineer at Solarcentury, at the time the UK’s biggest solar company, being promoted to Photovoltaic Analyst in only six months.

In 2016, Jacqueline moved to Berkeley where, over the next few years, she improved her already-impressive résumé, working for solar tracking and software company NEXTracker as a Data Analyst, for risk management and quality assurance company DNV GL as an Analytics Engineer, and finally for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a Scientific Engineering Associate. 

It may seem this path of success was preordained, but Jacqueline emphasizes not everyone needs to know exactly what they want to do from the very beginning:

“I would love to say that I always knew what I wanted to do, or that I had great role models, or that I was playing with Legos all the time and that I became an engineer for that reason. But that is not true. I have been discovering along the way what I want to do with my career. Sometimes I think we worry too much about finding the perfect job. My advice would be to do something, even if that is not 100% your niche, to get experience and opportunities. Thus, for the next job you will be more clear about what you want to pursue and what to avoid.

Indeed, Jacqueline realized she wanted to pursue an academic career, moving again to Riverside, where she continues to work toward a Ph.D. She wants to eventually become a professor, researching with and mentoring students, serving as a role model for them:

“The lack of female professors and leaders in university and industry really affected me. Just as a cookbook gives an image of how a dish should look, not having a role model image definitely leaves you with so many questions unanswered, and career paths where you don’t know what they ‘look like.’ I would have probably decided to have an academic career really early in the game, if I knew that was a path that I could consider.”

Students of all kinds likely find in Jacqueline a role model already: flexibility in education, dedication and hard work, a desire to make things better for the next generation–these are the qualities that have made Jacqueline so successful. But success doesn’t have to come right away. Jacqueline’s amazing career and work so far should serve as a reminder that the world is a rich and diverse place; taking the time to explore it and to explore oneself should be commended.

In her Ph.D. studies, Jacqueline focuses on transportation electrification, particularly charging strategies for battery electric heavy-duty trucks. Among her myriad achievements include the 2020 UCR Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship Award, 2022 NCST Dissertation Award, and 2022 Colin E. Hackett Graduate Award, being recognized as well for her work at the 2021 IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Conference and as Project Manager of the UCR team for the US Department of Energy’s Electric Vehicle EcoCAR challenge. Jacqueline is UC Riverside’s winner for NCST Outstanding Student of the Year, recognized for her academic performance, technical merit and research, professionalism, and leadership.

Congratulations Jacqueline! Your work is an inspiration to us all.

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