Michael Simms – Appointed by the Governor to the Louisiana Board of Professional Geoscientists
The Louisiana Board of Professional Geoscientists oversees the approvals of hydrogeologists and like scientific professionals in the state. This is quite an honor for Mike, a hydrogeologist with more than 30 years of experience. He learned of the appointment earlier this month and just had his first meeting.
Hydrogeologists are attempting to solve some of the big questions facing the world today, including sustainable water supply, food and energy production; environmental protection; and coping with climate change. They work closely with a wide range of industries to protect groundwater and much, much more.
For International Women’s Day, SCS decided to interview one of our own, Nicole Kron, who is a Hydrogeologist in Madison, Wisconsin. Nicole joined SCS Engineers in December 2017, as a project professional in the Environmental Services practice. Nicole graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Geology from the University of Illinois and earned her Masters of Science in Hydrogeology from Illinois State University.
Early in her career, prior to working at SCS, she did a lot of fieldwork – characterizing sites, determining where there might be issues of contamination that would need to be cleaned up, drilling and installing wells, collecting groundwater and soil sampling and just getting an understanding of the geology of the site.
Nicole now focuses more on the evaluation and preparation for the fieldwork. Once the fieldwork is completed, Nicole conducts the evaluation of the lab data that comes back and a groundwater analysis if needed. Based on the data they receive, whether it’s groundwater data or soil data or any other medium, she performs evaluations for what that means for that site. She then develops reports that explain the geology and hydrogeology of the site, the extent of contamination, and what are the next steps, whether that be to close the site or needing to do more work to better define the issue. She assists in a lot of those different areas and helps with managing the reporting and analysis of the findings.
Prior to coming to SCS Engineers, I had worked with two other firms. They were good firms but did not always have the warmest culture. I had a friend who worked in the SCS Engineers’ Madison office and mentioned that he enjoyed working for SCS and encouraged me to apply. There’s always going to be challenges and difficult times wherever you work. What I appreciate about working at SCS Engineers is that when there are those challenges, or if I’m having a tough day, there is still an environment of support at SCS and a desire for everyone to achieve their goals. SCS Engineers has the best work culture I’ve ever worked in!
Working with my team! I also love that I have the opportunity to develop my own career path and can contribute to finding solutions to issues we encounter while working on projects. I always feel respected and not just a “cog in the wheel,” but a part of the team. I appreciate that my work is valued here.
This is hard to answer! I’m a part of such a great team and am able to do a lot of work for some of our bigger clients in the Midwest. I’ve also taken over as the local SCS Young Professionals Leader for the Upper Midwest, where I help arrange meetings and lead discussions. I work on ways to help the YP’s feel like a connected group, supported while learning new skills, and improving work environments.
We all have different personalities and strengths to our personalities. There are no personality types that are designed for one type of career. For example, I’m an extrovert and like to collaborate with other people. But, not everyone is an extrovert and may take on challenges differently than I do. On the DiSC chart of personalities, I am a solid “iD,” which means I like to be high-spirited and enthusiastic and am also strong-willed. It’s good to recognize everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and learning what works and doesn’t work for your team.
Surprisingly, there were! It was fairly balanced. Many of the women that I attended school with have gone into a variety of fields since graduating – Oil and Gas, government and state agencies, and a few went into environmental consulting. I do see an increase in women joining the environmental field, which is exciting! Most are just starting off in their careers, but I think it’s great that hopefully there will continue to be more women in STEM fields!
The non-profit organization was started by a graduate student who wanted to ensure that science would continue beyond just the classroom and that students could see scientists as well-rounded people. Scientists are paired up with a classroom over a Skype video conference, and the students can ask questions about the scientist’s work and why they chose their career path. It’s a great opportunity for students to see what scientists are like and what they do. The founder of the program wanted to make sure students would see more of a scientist than the stereotype of a person with a lab coat and goggles on, mixing chemicals all day.
I’ve participated in two sessions – a 4th-grade class and a 10th-grade class. The 4th graders were from Canada, wanted to talk about volcanoes, and where they could find diamonds! The 10th-grade class happened to be an all-female class. They were excited to learn that I was a dancer and used to perform in plays and on the speech team in college. We also talked about how it is okay to fail sometimes and to recognize failure as part of the journey in your career and in life. Failure is part of being a scientist. If your experiment fails, you can’t just give up. You have to try something new! It was great to be able to remind your students that it’s okay to fail sometimes as long as you learn how to work through it.
Don’t discount opportunities to learn something that would be applicable to your field. When I was finishing my Masters, I had an opportunity to take a class that would give me the foundational understanding in this field, but I elected not to take it because I did not believe I would go into environmental consulting. Now I’m working in this field! Yes, it was one class and didn’t hinder my abilities to get a job or do my job today, but you never know what may be in store for you in the future. If you have an opportunity to learn something new, try it anyway! This should go beyond STEM as well. If you have a chance to learn, do it!
As a woman in the environmental field, sometimes you are the minority, but that’s not a bad thing. You are there to contribute and to be a part of a team. It shouldn’t matter the color of your skin, how old you are, or what gender you associate with.
Remember that your voice is just as important as everyone else’s! Be ready to listen and learn. Your voice has just as much power and meaning as any other person in the room.
I love to knit, go camping, and kayaking! I also really love to go dancing! I used to take ballroom dance classes when I was younger, so I take any opportunity I have to go dance!
Interview by Lindsay Evans, SCS Engineers Human Resources