The Portland Water Bureau is celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing the women on our staff who have made a mark on their chosen profession through hard work and talent. We share with you a series of stories about women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field who embody that achievement. We tip our hat to your achievements, and to all of the dedicated women who work to provide Portland with clean, safe and high-quality drinking water.
Climate Science & Sustainability Coordinator for the Portland Water Bureau
What is your role at the Water Bureau?
I’m the Water Bureau’s Climate Science & Sustainability Coordinator. In this role I use climate science and modeling to help inform long-term planning and decision making so the bureau is as resilient as possible in the future. I also work to help reduce the bureau’s environmental and carbon footprint, and improve efficiency in the process.
How long have you worked in this field?
I have worked in the environmental field for 16 years, and specifically on climate change for 10 years. Some of my research in the climate change field includes looking at how climate may impact future streamflows, snow and forest vegetation in Yosemite National Park, CA, and also how more frequent extreme storms could mobilize sewage and pathogen transport in Tijuana, Mexico. I also worked for American Rivers to implement climate resilient river restoration and conservation efforts for Northwest and California rivers, and with the Climate Trust to help reduce carbon emissions from agricultural practices.
What has been your greatest professional inspiration?
My personal passion for the outdoors and natural environment inspires me professionally to want to dedicate my career to a field that helps protect and secure that environment for the future.
What advice would you offer to someone starting out in your field?
Working on climate change can be both rewarding and extremely difficult. It’s a long term challenge that really forces people to think about a future in which they will not participate, and it can be hard to encourage people to act that far forward. If you’re starting out the in the field it’s so important to be committed to the issue, and recognize that this is a long game with both achievements and barriers along the way.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in your field?
We need more women in scientific and technical fields, and I greatly appreciate that I have a community of smart, cool women colleagues working on climate change who I can reach out to for advice and support. There’s room for more!
What else do you want to share about yourself and your work?
I’m always happy to talk about how the bureau is investing in preparing for climate change.