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About the Event

Dr. Griselda Bonilla is a chemical engineer and responsible for leading edge semiconductor technology research to define and develop a pipeline of next generation chip technologies for IBM. We asked a few questions about herself and her STEM career to get to know her a bit better before the live event.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
World travel.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Vocal chords, love to sing, aspire to learn the guitar.

Do you play any sports or do any athletic activities?
Chasing my 1-year old. Zumba. 

What's your favorite music?
Love all genres – have a nice mix of stations on Pandora.

Highest degree attained

Schools attended
University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
Purdue University
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college
Math and Chemistry

What educational accomplishments are you most proud of?
Obtaining my PhD.

What kinds of challenges did you overcome during your education?
Lots of them, most notably, financial challenges. First from my family to go to college, let alone graduate studies. Graduate school was very tough, but worth the effort.


Official title
Senior Manager, Advanced BEOL Interconnect Technology Research

“Layman’s” title

Years in this organization/position
10+ years at IBM, newly appointed to this position.

What does your organization do?
Our organization is responsible for leading edge semiconductor technology research for 10 nanometer (nm) node and beyond. Research objective is to define and develop a pipeline of next generation chip technologies that could be used in future IBM servers and by IBM’s alliance partners.

What is your role in the organization?
I lead the advanced interconnect research department in my organization, using our skills to innovate in areas of materials science and engineering to meet the demands of the emerging system requirements for cloud, big data, and cognitive systems. 

How is the work you do important to society?
We’re breaking the frontiers of science and technology, building devices, wires, and computer chips made of billions of transistors at the nanometer scale.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Work-life integration challenges

What would a teenager find interesting about what you do?
We perform research on leading edge technology that we mostly take for our smart phones, gaming systems, etc., but the technology that goes into making these work is extraordinary.

What’s the coolest part of your job?
Just being able to interact with top notch engineers and scientists day in and day out is an amazing part of my job.

What are some of the perks of your job?
Flex work schedule

What personal traits make you well suited for the work that you do?
Perseverance, tenacity, and good personal relationships.

What career-related awards or other forms of recognition have you received?
Several technical accomplishments throughout the years.

Previous employers and positions that have lead to your current role
I’ve been at IBM since I graduated.

Proudest career accomplishment
My Ph.D. dissertation was awarded “Best Ph.D. in Particle Technology” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers; an article published on the cover of Science.

What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up at age 12? At age 15? At age 18?
I didn’t really know until I was in high school and really only thought about my major while I was applying to college.

When did you know you wanted to pursue your current career, and what drove you towards it?
During high school, my love for science and math led me to an engineering career. I wanted to apply knowledge and create new things.

Who inspired you on this path?
High school chemistry teacher

Why did you agree to become a STEM Role Model?
We need more Hispanic, women, STEM role models. It’s a privilege to share my story.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your career?
Work hard, be passionate, and persevere.

What advice would you give students in general?
Be passionate, work hard, and persevere.

What are some interesting places you’ve traveled?
India, Japan, Turkey, Auschwitz, Spain, Hong Kong, Greece, France, England, Germany, Holland, Czech Republic, Hungary.

What was my driving force?
I didn’t have much growing up, but I knew I wanted a different and better life for me and my family. It took a lot of hard work and effort, but today I live a life I would never have thought was possible for me growing up.

Additional resources

New York Times: "IBM Discloses Working Version of a Much Higher-Capacity Chip" 

IBM Research: Featured Research

IBM Research: Tackling tomorrow’s chip grand challenge today