Noblis is proud to have a diverse staff, and as part of our Women’s History Month celebration, we are recognizing women who positively impact our clients, organization and overall mission to enrich lives and protect our nation. We are honored to feature these women and share their thoughts on their careers, their most pivotal moments, who inspires them and more.

headshot of Katharine JenningsMeet Katharine

Dr. Katharine Jennings is the senior manager for the Noblis life sciences team and lead for our applied Sciences research center. She earned a doctorate in Microbiology and Immunology and has more than 20 years of experience in micro- and molecular biology research, microbial forensics and professional development training. Dr. Jennings leads a team of biologists and bioinformatics scientists delivering mission-focused technical solutions. She and her team create innovative solutions and prototypes addressing national security and public health challenges, such as Noblis’ portable DNA sequencing system which enables rapid metagenomic classification analysis for rapid, accurate biological threat identification in the field.

Why did you pursue microbiology? 

I am a microbiologist by education and pursued a field in this domain because I have always been fascinated by nature and science. Throughout my career, I have largely focused on biodefense because of my interest in forensics. It’s all about investigating a mystery and problem solving for me.

Can you tell us about a pivotal point/proudest achievement in your career? 

In 2020, I received the Noblis Award for Excellence in Science and Technology for leadership and technical contributions to Noblis’ life sciences strategy, training and to our work for COVID-19 research and response. This was career affirming for me. I have had the good fortune and pleasure to work with several past recipients. Their accomplishments and capabilities have always awed and inspired me, and it was hard to imagine I would be operating at that level. Joining this special group of professionals motivates me even more to produce results and make a difference every day. I think this has a positive impact on my client work by focusing my energies into mission achievements.

What’s one thing that your colleagues don’t know about you or surprises them when they find out? 

I left Noblis for about six months around 2014. I was burned out and my husband had retired. But during that time, I felt like a ship without a rudder. I happened to meet a life coach by chance and worked with her for a month to define my values and goals. It was an incredibly valuable experience. Shortly thereafter, when a then-Noblis colleague asked if I would come back part time to teach classes, I agreed. Fast forward seven years and I am fully engaged, and I love my job, Noblis colleagues and the ongoing sense of accomplishment.

What was it about Noblis, our mission or our culture that influenced your decision to join or stay at Noblis? 

There are three aspects of Noblis that keep me here. They are the Noblis culture, people and mission. The projects are interesting and challenging. I’m always learning new things and working with professional, talented people who are innovating and changing how things are done. It’s exciting and satisfying to me.

Learn more about Noblis’ life sciences capabilities and research and about our work and research for COVID-19 response.

Learn more about Noblis’ commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here.