Coffee with Postdoc Series: Louise Frenck

Experimenting is Imagining!

Louise Frenck is an LBL/UC Berkeley postdoc working at the Energy Storage & Distributed Resources Division & is the Social and Outdoor committee lead at the Berkeley Lab Postdoc Association (BLPA).

A Parisian girl’s journey to Berkeley Lab

As a little kid growing up in the “real Paris” (near the Eiffel Tower), Louise was filled with curiosity and a love for nature. At the age of 6, little Louise declared that she’ll not get a driver’s license to cut down on carbon emissions! She developed a love for physics and chemistry in middle school and enjoyed hands-on lab work in her high school.

She then went on to do a double-major in physics and chemistry followed by a master in material science from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. Subsequently, she did her PhD on a “Study of buffer layer based on block copolymer electrolytes between the lithium metal and a ceramic electrolyte for aqueous Li-Air battery”, at the Université  de Grenoble Alpes. During her PhD she worked with the electric utility company Électricité de France (EDF), and worked for one year as a visiting scholar at LBNL. Impressed with the research culture and state-of-the-art facilities in her LBNL group, Louise decided to come back for a postdoc in 2017.

Fun Facts : Louise is part Swedish and has a twin sister!

Culture shocks, First impressions & Mentorship: When Louise first moved to Berkeley she was shocked by the social segregation along racial lines in the US. The Frenchwomen in her was also appalled by the quality of bread and pastries in the Bay Area! On the bright side, she was impressed by the research culture, collaborations, and the access to the synchrotron at LBNL/UC Berkeley. Her work at LBNL/UC Berkeley involves hard X-ray Microtomography. She finds fulfillment in mentoring undergrads and seeing them grow as researchers. “I’m proud of my undergrad mentees!”

Louise’s typical day at work involves

  • Working in glove boxes with 3-layered zero-dexterity gloves, making lithium cells.
  • Beam time lasting 24 hours at a stretch.
  • Mentoring undergraduate researchers (before pandemic).

Hobbies, BLPA & Looking into the future

In her free time Louise loves to bake, paint, and go on hikes. Her close friends know that she’s an excellent baker, has a great stamina for hikes, and loves the color blue in her paintings. She finds painting to be relaxing at times of stress, and baking to be analogous to chemistry in many ways! Before the pandemic, she was also into dancing.

Fun Facts: Louise dances Salsa, Lindy hop, Tango & Rock n Roll. She has a red belt in Taekwondo (beware)!

Louise’s involvement with BLPA began as a participant in the hikes and social events. She became a volunteer in 2018, a board member 2019, and subsequently the Outdoor committee head. During the pandemic she took on the role of the social committee chair, and planned events like the board game night which have kept postdocs engaged during these tough times. She says during the pandemic “outdoor became indoor, and social became indoor social!”. How did BLPA impact her personally? She says she made tons of great memories, friends and found fulfillment in helping new postdocs. Additionally, BLPA has been an excellent way to meet and network with postdocs across divisions.

Looking into the future, Louise sees herself working in the battery industry for electrical cars. Her advice to current and future postdocs: Look to collaborate and network with researchers. Work-life balance is extremely important for success in any field! We wish her good luck in all of her future endeavors.