Women in Science - Jennifer Adkins

Women in Science - Jennifer Adkins

Highlighting and sharing the work of dedicated female scientists is an important part of opening the STEM fields to young girls. To do our part at Edwards Aquifer Authority, we are starting a year-long series entitled Women in Science. Each month, we will interview some of the amazing female scientists that call the EAA home and post it on our blog.

Edwards Aquifer Authority’s first Women in Science spotlight is on hydrogeologist Jennifer Adkins. While working on a research project for her master’s degree, she fell in love with the Edwards Aquifer. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Jennifer did her master’s internship with the EAA. Adkins earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in geology with a master’s focus on karst hydrogeology.

Almost four years after she started out as an environmental coordinator, Adkins is now a lead geologist for the geology assessment team. Jennifer’s recent promotion to hydrogeologist made her the first female hydrogeologist in the EAA’s 21-year history. She is currently working on the Interformational Flow Investigation. She and other scientists at the EAA are studying the interformational flow of water between the Edwards Aquifer and the Trinity Aquifer. Their research will help the EAA better understand the connection between the two aquifers. This will reduce uncertainty about the amount of water the two aquifers share across the region.

As a lead geologist, Jennifer is in the field collecting routine samples, doing geology surveys, and gathering data to insure the aquifer, our area’s largest water supply, remains protected. Geology was a natural choice for Jennifer. Throughout her childhood, Adkins always loved rocks. “As soon as I found out geology was a thing, I knew it was the right thing for me,” said Jennifer. Studying rocks in middle school led to an introductory geology course at the University of Arkansas and from there she was hooked. Even better, studying rocks meant that she could be outside which is another love of Adkin’s. In fact, during her free time she enjoys things like caving, hiking, teaching scouts to rock climb and spending time with her family outdoors.

One of the difficulties that arise from being a woman in science, she says, is that it is hard to get heard. In a field where the majority of her colleagues are men, there are times her voice gets lost in the crowd. When dealing with the public she struggles to convince people that she is competent and has a background in geology. Thankfully, the EAA appreciates her skills and knowledge and she is not discredited because she is a woman. Jennifer feels like her greatest accomplishment as a scientist has happened right here at the EAA. Her recent promotion to hydrogeologist puts her where she wants to be in her career. While Jennifer is published, she hopes to see many more publications with her name on them based on the research she is doing in the Edwards Aquifer.

When asked how we go about getting more young women into scientific fields, Adkins stated that girls need to see more strong women in the field through STEM events. Another suggestion she had was to encourage female scientists to act as role models for young students. While that seems cliché, having a female scientist for a young girl to look up to can help reverse the stigma that math and sciences are for boys. The best piece of advice Adkins has been given, and the one piece of advice she would give others studying science, is to do what you are passionate about. Love the science you do and you will make a difference.

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