Here is our latest interview from April 2021 with Dr Cynthia Fadem, PhD, RPA. She loves finding out new things about the Earth and gets to do this daily in her job as a professor of environmental science.

1. Introduce yourself, who are you, and what do you do?

I study the broad fields of geoarchaeology, environmental science, and geoscience education. I analyze soils, stable isotope chemistry, geomorphology, and geochemistry of archaeological site materials to reconstruct paleoenvironments and understand site taphonomy. I also study lithic and ceramic artifacts and their provenance. Utilizing climate science, GIS, and the observed behavior of natural soil and water systems, I aim to resolve questions about archaeological sites, human societies, and natural resource use. I'm also involved in professional society disciplinary leadership and mentorship in geoarchaeology through the Geological Society of America and the Society for American Archaeology.

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I don't think I would have ever imagined myself as a professor! My only goal was getting through school and going to college, so everything after that, younger me would have considered a bonus. I did always want to contribute to the world and do something exciting for work and, as a teacher and research scientist, I think I’ve accomplished that. 

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? 

I'm still constantly excited about discovering and exploring new things about the Earth and humanity's past. I also love teaching, learning, and trying out new ways to communicate information and get people excited about learning environmental science.

4. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

There are so many amazing women in science I look up to! Brilliant researchers and thinkers like Jane Goodall, Katherine Johnson, Hedy Lamarr, and Marie Curie come to mind.

5. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? 

I would just say, whatever you're passionate about or whatever inspires you is your thing! Whenever someone tells you something is not for you, because of the kind/type of person you are, they're simply incorrect.

6. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  1. Try to stay focused on your goals and the most efficient (not flashiest or most popular) way to get there.

  2. Ignore the haters whenever possible and try to support your fellow minority students in STEM.

  3. Seek out support systems (friends, family, student groups, administrators that work to assist students, etc.) to help empower you whenever possible.

7.  How do you measure your success?

I feel like the people I’m able to support through education and the narratives I’m able to write through scientific research are my successes. I also have degrees and pursue grants, and those are things you need to facilitate the work, but not end goals.

8.  Where can we find out more about your work?

My website: https://earlham.edu/faculty-staff/cynthia-fadem/
My CV/resume: https://earlham.academia.edu/CynthiaFadem/CurriculumVitae

9. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

Twitter: @cyntillation
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cfadem