Prior to joining the USG as an energy advisor, Lara was a AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Her portfolio included nuclear power and waste management, energy efficiency, energy storage, and clean energy finance. She completed a postdoc at the MIT Energy Initiative in July 2012, during which she studied the effectiveness of loan guarantees at promoting energy deployment. She received her PhD in 2011 from MIT in Engineering Systems, focusing on advanced technologies for nuclear waste recycling, and she holds dual masters degrees from MIT in nuclear engineering and technology policy. She is a native Californian, and completed her B.S. in physics at UCLA in 2004.