Assistant Director, Program Development and Research Services
Trina K. Wafle, whose first love is literature, became interested in science “by osmosis.” Her father, a mechanical engineer, influenced her interest in energy and encouraged her to consider technical writing as a career. She worked her way through college as a technical writer/editor for Westinghouse and then for West Virginia Network for Education Telecomputing (WVNET) until her graduation with a cum laude degree in English from West Virginia University in December, 1982.
In the summer of ’83, she joined the Energy Institute’s original predecessor, the Energy Research Center, as a writer/editor for the $1.3 million program. Wafle helped the organization grow into the National Research Center for Coal and Energy, which then merged into the Energy Institute in 2019. The Energy Institute works with WVU faculty to develop programs worth multiple millions per year. She has held leadership positions in several Energy Institute programs in addition to her role as Assistant Director for Program Development and Research Services. Wafle also serves as Director of Shared Research Facilities, an assignment she accepted in January 2015.
Her greatest pleasure is helping faculty to write award-winning proposals and feature stories that help the public understand the value of WVU’s energy and environmental research.
She is proud of West Virginia’s historic contributions to energy and science. “Few people know that West Virginia is a source of not only energy, but also of technology. The mural by Robert Lepper that hangs in our lobby communicates how important—even central—West Virginia has been to this nation in developing energy, chemicals, manufacturing, glass, steel, and other industries.These industries flourished because of the state’s abundant, affordable energy.”
“Energy is at a crossroads, in part because of environmental issues and in part because of advances in technologies for extracting oil and gas.” Wafle sees the Energy Institute in the middle of that intersection: facilitating a scientific creative process to link existing systems with new technologies that help the economy by lowering energy costs, while protecting the environment. She believes that through the integration of disciplines–the hallmark of the Energy Institute–West Virginia University is uniquely positioned to pave the way to a bright future.
In her spare time, Wafle enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction (Michael Lewis is her favorite author) and English style horseback riding, her newest hobby. “I love to bring literary lessons to life; I can see parallels between my work and what I’m reading.” Her favorite part of working at the Energy Institute is having the ability to work with faculty. “I love the creative talent among our faculty and their genius for solving problems.”