Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Interviews: Meteorite Researcher And A Palaeontologist

Came across these two interesting interviews with a meteorite researcher and a paleontologist.

Meenakshi Wadhwa grew up in Chandigarh, North India. She wanted to study architecture. She ended up being a meteorite researcher. Quanta Magazine highlights her path from college to Director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University.

I totally related to this!

Applying from India, at a time when there was no internet, I had the Barron’s guide to graduate schools in the U.S., which was outdated by like 10 years at that point. I didn’t care about geography or any of that. I didn’t care if it was East Coast or West Coast or the Midwest. It was all half a world away.

.. and this was pretty amazing-

We get something like 100 tons of stuff falling on the Earth every single day. Spread over the entire planet, it’s not all that much if you think about it. Most of that is sand-size particles — tiny, tiny particles. Things that are about the size of a car, or van-size bolides, they hit a few times a year. Something the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor [which exploded over Russia in 2013], that’s a few times a year.

It's a terrific interview.

Dr. Lisa White is a paleontologist. Her specialty is Diatoms. These are single celled algae. They have a lot to tell us about past ecology and climate.  African Americans are poorly represented in the geosciences, and Dr. White as the director of education and outreach at the University of California Museum of Paleontology is actively working to increase diversity in the geosciences.

An excerpt:

I work nationally on a number of boards and with working groups and communities that are constantly examining the diversity in geosciences. We know our numbers don’t compare to engineering and the biological sciences. African American students are more likely to know about those fields and see the direct link to jobs. So we do have a bit of an image problem.

[It can be] difficult for students to have access to information about geosciences careers. There aren’t often a lot of standalone courses in high school. But there are a lot of interdisciplinary connections between all the fields, especially geoscience engineering, chemistry, water science, even agriculture…soil science.

Black Enterprise has the full interview.

Its always fun to read about how people arrive at a particular career trajectory.  A casual conversation, a book read during a holiday, or a trip taken with friends or for some other work can lead someone down  a career path they never thought they would take.

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