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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2022

NSWCDD Physicist’s Love of Food and Photography Promotes Understanding and Acceptance

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

“When you understand the other’s background, you understand where they’re coming from and then the conversations and relationships are more meaningful,” said Elixia Ross, a Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) physicist. “Food, photography and even language can help us see things we thought were unique to our culture and help us bond.”

Born and raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Ross graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao with her bachelor’s degree in applied physics and electronics. After graduation, she decided to make her way to the United States to obtain a master’s degree in astrophysics from Ball State University in Indiana. “When you’re driving from the airport to the university and all you see are corn fields, you panic. But I knew I needed to get out of Puerto Rico and see what else was out there,” Ross recalled.

Ross made her way to Dahlgren in 2017 after her husband was offered a contracting position on base. “He was transferred here as a contractor and I came with him because there were more opportunities in Virginia for me. When I got an offer at Dahlgren as well, I was so excited,” Ross said.

Ross currently works as a scrum master for the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Planning, Analysis and Research Branch. As a scrum master, she ensures that her team members are successful and their needs are met. “I communicate with our product owner, the people that are in charge of the product and with my team so that we can get the product done,” Ross stated.

Ross is also the technical point of contact for two contracts that are developing a Remote Telescope Control for the U.S. Naval Observatory. “The other part of my job consists of communicating with the contracting officer for which contracts we have, which is an initiative to help small businesses. So mainly I am the point of contact to make sure all the technical conversations are happening and making sure all the processes are meeting our standards.”

In Ross’ spare time, she expresses herself through cooking and photography. “I love cooking and making people enjoy what they cook and what they eat,” Ross expressed. “I care to hear if they enjoy it and if they would change anything because that introduces me to how they really feel. For example, I know one of my coworkers does not like things with mint and chocolate mixed together, but then another one doesn’t like chocolate. The fun for me is figuring out how I can make something that they will enjoy.”

Ross is also responsible for the creation and management of the department photo contest to promote team bonding and morale, which was critical during the last several years when team members weren’t able to interact in person.

Ross’s love for all things food and photography stems from her parents and her upbringing in Puerto Rico. She credits her parents for raising her to embrace where she came from and for encouraging her to learn more about other cultures. ”My parents always had books and always encouraged me to watch National Geographic and read about all the different cultures to understand them,” Ross said. “You can have your own beliefs and opinions, but you also need to understand where others are coming from.”