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On International Women's Day, MI Environment highlights women who work in science-related jobs
March 08, 2022
The women listed below answered these three questions:
- What do you do?
- What attracts you to this kind of work?
- What advice do you have for girls or young women looking to this field?
Lori Babcock, senior geologist
- I inspect solid waste disposal facilities like landfills and evaluate their compliance with environmental protection laws. I also work with these facilities to develop hydrogeologic monitoring programs and I regularly analyze their monitoring data to ensure that soil and water in Michigan are protected. I also do some of my own soil and water sampling.
- I chose to study geology because it's an excellent mixture of field and computer-based work, often in interesting locations. I wanted to pursue work that would keep me engaged, with a meaningful outcome. Working as a geologist in an environmental field is rewarding because you get to answer your own questions about the Earth and have a positive impact on society.
- If you are interested in a career in geology, I would first advise you to do the extracurricular activities that you like, and don't neglect the arts if you enjoy them! My background with theater and studio art is applicable to this career because I am constantly presenting information to different audiences, and I create most of my own content. Check out books from your local library on geology and other sciences to expand your knowledge. Once you are in college, as early as your first semester, let the faculty in your program of study know that you would like to work in their laboratories or assist with their summer field work. It's a great way have relevant work experience and further your understanding of the discipline. Seek out science and engineering internship opportunities in college as well. Those experiences will help guide you to the type of work you would like to do long term.
Jennifer Bolt, lead and copper rules specialist
- I help community water systems comply with the requirements associated with lead and copper in drinking water from both the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. These are complex regulations because lead in drinking water is a complex problem. Michigan is one of the few states that has written its own rules to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water, and I'm proud to help with that effort.
- I've always been a trees, bugs, and birds type of person. Working for EGLE lets me protect public resources and public health every day. I'm also love problem solving and helping people so being a public servant and regulator was a natural fit. While I've worked in several EGLE programs (municipal stormwater, wetlands and inland lakes and stream, and drinking water) working with the Lead and Copper Rule provides me with plenty of complex problems and questions from dedicated staff and water operators to keep me engaged every day.
- Careers in science are amazing because there are so many different paths and specialties. You never know where your life and career may lead you. So my advice is don't wait for the perfect opportunity, don't be afraid of taking on a hard subject or a difficult job, and don't stop learning something new every day.
Nicole Sanabria, geologist, Hazardous Waste Program
- I oversee environmental cleanup activities at Michigan's hazardous waste sites and ensure that businesses are following Michigan's laws for properly treating, storing, or disposing of hazardous waste. As a geologist, this involves reviewing license applications, collecting samples, reviewing data, seeking appropriate remedial measures, and preventing risk to human health and the environment. I am also currently pursuing a master's degree in geology from Western Michigan University and researching contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Michigan's soils.
- I love that my job allows me to help protect Michigan's residents and natural resources, and I love that my schooling allows me to study and seek solutions for one of Michigan's most challenging contaminants.
- Don't give up on your goals and what you want to accomplish, or let others tell you that you can't pursue a career in science. Always be open to opportunities to learn more about what you're passionate about!
Lisa Thomas, engineer
- As an engineer, I serve as a technical assistant for clean energy manufacturing and renewable energy solutions. My work allows me to interface with various state agencies and private sectors to research, analyze, develop and manage projects/programs that support the Michigan Energy Services, federal Department of Energy (DOE), and State Energy Program (SEP). A few of my responsibilities include administering, monitoring, and implementing complex, technical grants and/or contracts for services funded through the federal DOE and SEP. I ensure high performance for developing effective grant administration, compliance with contract terms, and safeguarding the interests of the State of Michigan, Energy Services, in its contractual relationships.
- What attracts me to this kind of work is the ability to utilize my engineering background and experiences to help my community -- my fellow Michiganders. The main driver of my interest to work in the energy field is my desire to foster the preservation of the earth, by supporting sustainable methods for renewable energy production and decreasing the amount of extracted resources required to make energy. I view these two approaches as the most positive ways of maintaining a healthy and safe environment.
- My advice for young women and girls stems from a quote from the influential Black American journalist Ida B. Wells, which states, "The appetite grows for what it feeds on." Women, unfortunately, represent a small percentage of the United States' engineering professionals. Do not let this statistic deter you from pursuing your passion. Keep striving, innovating, and fueling your appetite for engineering. Your voices are important.