Trisha Perez

“PPPL is a pioneer in plasma physics, and I think administrators help. We are contributors, we are necessary, and we keep everybody accountable. We are central to the mission.”

— Trisha Perez

Title & Department: Senior Administrative Assistant, Theory Department 

Year started at PPPL: 2018

Originally published in July 2021


An administrator in the Theory Department makes it her mission to welcome new arrivals

Trisha Perez has always looked after new arrivals in the Theory Department, one of the largest at PPPL, with 65 full-time staff and numerous other visitors, students and contractors. So when most of PPPL’s staff began working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Perez made it her business to set up remote meetings to check up on postdoctoral researchers from outside the U.S. whose families were far away.

Perez is one of three administrators in the Theory Department who helps keep things running smoothly for researchers, and she greets visitors with a warm smile when staff are on-site. “I love people,” she said. “The pandemic has been really hard because I’m such a social person.”

Many people don’t realize how hard administrators work to support researchers and other staff, Perez said. “They are the glue that keeps the mission going,” she said. “There are the actual people who work on the machines, the technicians, the physicists, people like that, and we bring them all together. PPPL is a pioneer in plasma physics, and I think admins help. We are contributors, we are necessary, and we keep everybody accountable. We are central to the mission.”  

Perez grew up in a large family in Brooklyn, New York, the third in a family of three boys and three girls. After graduating from high school and community college in New York, she attended Nyack College and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2008. Perez moved with her family to Somerset, New Jersey, in 2008.

Perez held several different jobs before coming to PPPL. She worked at Starbucks Coffee Co. for several years, working her way up to manager. After returning to school to obtain her MBA from Rider University, she worked at a bank for several years. She then worked as operations manager for Bowler Co. in South Brunswick at one of the largest bowling centers in New Jersey. After that, she became a contractor for Princeton University's Facilities Service Center before coming to PPPL.

Although Perez didn’t know about PPPL before she took a job at the University, she said she enjoys working for an organization with the primary mission of developing fusion energy as a sustainable, plentiful and affordable source of electricity. She tells friends and family, “It’s an alternative that’s better for the environment.”

Perez returned to school in 2020 to take courses remotely and obtain her doctorate degree in education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, specializing in organizational leadership. She expects to graduate in 2023 and possibly pursue a career in teaching.

Three things about yourself:

  1. “I love to travel. In the United States, one of my favorite places to go is Maine. I go to Bar Harbor and have been to Acadia National Park. It’s very beautiful in the summer, and lobster is one of my favorite foods.”
  2. “I am a foodie. Pre-COVID, I went out to different restaurants with people and tried their culture. I am not scared to try a different culture. My department has so many different ethnic groups and nationalities, so going out with them to their favorite restaurants, I absolutely love it.”
  3. “I am 4-foot-11. I didn’t make the 5-foot crowd. You might not see me in a crowd, but I am there.”

Describe your job:

“Being an administrative assistant entails a lot of different hands in a lot of different places. I work closely with Information Technolgoy, especially since we’re all virtual. I also work with Human Resources when we have visitors coming in or when we have new hires coming in, and I make those new introductions. I’m the first face they see when they come through the doors, or they get an email now, and I just provide that personal contact. When they come in, I order items and make stuff comfortable for them so they feel like they have the right setup to get their job done.

I always make sure I have an open-door policy. If anyone needs to get in contact with me, I try to respond at my earliest convenience. I help managers and remind them about meetings by sending extra text messages or emails and holding people accountable to their calendars and schedules because Zoom can be very forgetful! I try not to overdo people’s schedules because of Zoom fatigue, so saying, ‘Hey, we have too many Zooms on your calendar. Can this wait for another day, or try to schedule it for next week.’ I try to follow up and make sure everyone is healthy, especially with the vaccine, and remind them to use COVID days instead of sick days. I just try to be that helpful person because people can be so consumed with their work that they just don’t know about the paperwork or the admin work.”

What does working at PPPL mean to you?

“PPPL means being pioneers in the whole plasma physics world. I didn’t know what plasma physics was before I got here. Working with a lot of physicists, I know what it is now, and it’s just making the Earth a better place for the next generation. I feel like PPPL is such a selfless organization. We’re putting in the work now so that people can enjoy the Earth later. That’s what it means to me. Just being selfless, putting in the hard work, the long hours and making a difference and an impact on our current community and our future communities.”