Diane Dickel

Staff Scientist

Department Head, Comparative and Functional Genomics

Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology

Biosciences Area

Diane is a genomicist who co-leads the Mammalian Functional Genomics Lab. She has broad interests in using functional genomics technologies to study questions in human disease, evolution, development, and plant biology. Currently, her primary research focus is on understanding how changes in noncoding DNA sequences alter mammalian development and contribute to human disease. Prior to joining LBNL in 2010, she received her BA from the University of Chicago and her PhD from the University of Washington, where she was the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health.

What inspires you to work in STEM or operations?

For most of my childhood I wanted to be a writer, not a scientist. It wasn’t until high school that I really gained a strong interest in science, especially chemistry and neuroscience. I was drawn to the order, logic, and problem-solving challenges of science.

Quite simply, I really enjoy doing science. I get to constantly learn new things, think of new ideas to explore, and then see the results improve our understanding of the world.

What excites you about your work at Berkeley Lab?

The ability to do cutting-edge science in collaborative teams. I’m excited to work in an environment where we can collaborate to do ambitious, meaningful science.

How can our country engage more women, girls, and members of other underrepresented groups in STEM or operations?

Paid research internships for high school and college students from underrepresented groups can help make careers in science a reality. I benefited from having the opportunity to have an internship that led to a paid research position in college, and that experience was invaluable to my pursuing a research career. If I’d missed out on that chance and had to continue working in a service sector job while going to school, I’m not sure a research career would’ve been a sustainable dream.

Do you have tips you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Getting hands on experience is the best way to determine if you want to pursue research as a career. Having a good mentor is really helpful. Science can be a hard and opaque career path, so most scientists are happy to give advice if asked.

When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

Most of my free time these days is family time, and we play board games, bicycle, take walks, and watch movies. I also read a lot, both fiction and nonfiction. With COVID restrictions, I miss traveling and exploring new places.