Beverly Marzec started working at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory in June of 1964, when she was just 19 years old. During her 59-year career at the lab, she contributed to numerous scientific endeavors, earned a degree in business administration, served as a mentor and took on several leadership roles. “I worked my way up to being an assistant division director. That was an accomplishment that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could achieve,” Marzec said.
The path to becoming an assistant division director was no easy feat. Marzec began her career as a secretary at the Zero Gradient Synchrotron, a proton accelerator facility at Argonne that operated until 1979. She wrote letters, submitted purchase orders and assisted with other tasks to support researchers. During that time, she discovered her passion for learning and growing in her profession. “I realized that if I wanted to have a career, I needed a college degree,” she said.
Marzec worked at Argonne full-time while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Over the course of 10 years, she took classes on evenings and Saturdays. She was also married and had two children at the time. “My kids and I would sit at the kitchen table and do our homework together,” described Marzec.
“Once I had my degree, it opened up doors for me,” she said. In Marzec’s next career phase at Argonne, she spent 31 years at the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source (IPNS), a scientific user facility that aided in neutron scattering and neutron radiation damage research. She started as a scientific secretary in 1990 and quickly transitioned into roles with greater responsibilities and leadership opportunities.
As a senior executive assistant, a position she secured in 1998, Marzec coordinated the IPNS’s environment, safety and health (ESH) program. In 2006, Marzec stepped into the role of assistant division director for the IPNS, where she was responsible for the financial management of the facility. She aided in budget planning, analyzed financial information, oversaw the ESH program and coordinated with oversight agencies. When the decision was made to close the IPNS in 2008, Marzec spent the next four years shutting down the facility and preparing for retirement.
“Becoming an assistant division director was an accomplishment that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could achieve.” — Beverly Marzec
The day before Marzec was set to retire, she attended a celebration with her colleagues. Over cake, a co-worker asked if she would be willing to postpone her retirement for a few months to fill in for an employee at the Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science user facility, while he was away on sick leave. She agreed, and three months later decided to continue postponing her retirement by applying for a position in the Materials Science division.
In 2012, Marzec began her next career phase at Argonne as assistant division director for the Materials Science division. “My role there was very, very busy. I took care of all the human resources work and helped the division director with operational needs,” she described. She also managed DOE reports, oversaw employee training and helped with the ESH program.
On June 30, 2023, Marzec officially retired, leaving a vast array of career accomplishments in her wake. She received the University of Chicago Distinguished Employee Award and made profound contributions as the editor of IPNS progress reports and several books. But Marzec says one of the things she’s most proud of is her role as a mentor. “It gives me such a sense of fulfillment when I see some of the employees that I mentored and how successful they have been.”
Despite retiring, Marzec hasn’t parted ways from Argonne just yet. She is currently an Argonne Associate and continues to come into the lab one day each week. “I like to be productive and feel that I’m doing meaningful work,” she said.
But taking a step back from the lab has freed up more time to play in the garden, visit her grandchildren and consider visiting vineyards in Michigan. It’s also given her time to reflect on her career at Argonne. “I had some excellent bosses and mentors that gave me opportunities to learn. I made so many friends over the years, and even if I don’t see them every day anymore, we pick things right back up again. It’s that feeling of family. I feel so fortunate to have the career that I had.”
About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://science.osti.gov/User-Facilities/User-Facilities-at-a-Glance.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.