Celebrating EAA’s Women in Science
Emily Thompson is the Senior Water Quality Program Coordinator, and she has worked at the Edwards Aquifer Authority for the past 18 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in Marine Science. In addition, she has a master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.....
Emily Thompson is the Senior Water Quality Program Coordinator, and she has worked at the Edwards Aquifer Authority for the past 18 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in Marine Science. In addition, she has a master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Emily started her career path off as a field representative reading meters and locating unregistered wells in Comal and Hays Counties. Shortly after, she became a technician collecting water samples from wells, springs, and rivers from locations spanning the EAA’s eight county jurisdiction. During this time, Emily decided to pursue her master’s degree, which she later obtained in Environmental Science. Her experience and skillset eventually led her to assume the role of Environmental Coordinator. From that point on her focus shifted to protecting the environmentally sensitive, Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Some of her responsibilities included, reviewing engineering plans for new construction, monitoring storage of hazardous substances, and investigating potential aquifer contaminations.
In her current position at the EAA, Emily is responsible for recharge zone protection and research, spill response and overseeing remediation, first responder collaboration, cave and other sensitive feature location, complaint investigations, and she assists with conservation easement monitoring and geological assessments. Emily is also a certified hazardous materials manager (CHMM), which gives her the ability to make informed recommendations for handling hazardous materials. The programs Emily is tasked with help maintain the overall quality of water that flows into and through the Edwards Aquifer, which helps ensure the health of the system which 2 million South Central Texans rely on.
Emily has always loved outdoor activities and enjoys sharing that love with her friends and family. Whether it be a vacation to the beach where she teaches her nephew about marine life and the creatures that once dwelled in shells, or time out on the lake, you can almost always find her exploring the outdoors. Her advice to adolescents is to pursue something they are passionate about and a course of study that excites them. She says, “The first step, is to focus your efforts on topics that inspire you. Finding your passion leads to an enjoyment for the career you ultimately take on.” The science field has a vast array of careers, but focusing on a specific interest within the field is the key to long-term success and professional growth in the science field.
Gizelle Luevano, a San Antonio native, has been a part the Edwards Aquifer Authority for nearly 18 years. As a lead hydrological data coordinator Gizelle oversees the collection of Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP) water quality samples, assisting with technological briefings, and working on scientific reports. She received her bachelor’s degree in....
Gizelle Luevano, a San Antonio native, has been a part the Edwards Aquifer Authority for nearly 18 years. As a lead hydrological data coordinator Gizelle oversees the collection of Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP) water quality samples, assisting with technological briefings, and working on scientific reports. She received her bachelor’s degree in Geology from St. Mary’s University, master’s degree in Environmental Management from Duquesne University, and recently obtained an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of New England.
Gizelle recalls an accomplishment she experienced in 2013 when her department successfully carried out their routine sampling of 76 wells, conducted their monthly river and spring sampling, biannual sampling of eight rivers that flow in EAA’s jurisdiction, and added collecting samples for the EAHCP. That year the EAHCP sampling included conducting biannual sampling of the Comal and San Marcos rivers, and annual sediment testing and four storm events. Not only did they successfully complete their routine sampling but they also exceeded their goals and provided findings that were important to the EAHCP.
Gizelle attributes her accomplishments and career highlights to her passion for learning and support from her family. She believes it is important to have confidence in yourself so that you may reach the goals you set out to achieve. Her advice to adolescents in high school, that are about to graduate, “Finish it out and make sure you graduate, because exciting opportunities are on the horizon. When you figure out what you want to do, try interning somewhere to gain experience.”
As a child, Gizelle’s interest in the natural sciences began when she watched a movie called Space Camp, and from that point forward her parents encouraged her to pursue her goal of finding a career in the science field. As for other women in the science field, Gizelle strongly believes It is important to mentor young women. Mentoring provides insight into the world of science, inspires young women, and could ultimately be the difference in a child’s decision to pursue a career in science.
Isabel Martinez has been with the Edwards Aquifer Authority for ten years, and serves as the coordinator of conservation programs. Before coming to the EAA, Martinez received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from St. Mary’s University and holds master’s degree in Natural Resource Development from Texas A&M University. Isabel’s appreciation for the environment....
Isabel Martinez has been with the Edwards Aquifer Authority for ten years, and serves as the coordinator of conservation programs. Before coming to the EAA, Martinez received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from St. Mary’s University and holds master’s degree in Natural Resource Development from Texas A&M University.
Isabel’s appreciation for the environment began when she held a position studying the effects of air pollution. Then, she went on to complete an internship at the San Antonio Water System which gave her the experience that led to her position at the EAA. As a coordinator of conservation programs at the EAA, she works with permit holders to help them reduce water use. The EAA, along with other agencies who work to protect natural water resources in the area, provide many programs to help permit holders. These programs are set in place to ensure that the water levels within the aquifer stay within acceptable ranges to protect the species that live within the Edwards Aquifer System. In addition, Isabel helps facilitate grant programs within the agency. The grant program helps permit holders conserve water through the purchase of water saving equipment, such as efficient irrigation sprinklers or through the implementation of water saving programs.
Young women and young men are exploring STEM careers more than ever, and bringing awareness to the important role science plays in our everyday lives. That is why Isabel believes in hands on or interactive training opportunities, because it encourages others to guide and mentor young women and men who have an interest in the field of science. It is her hope that people continue to take advantage of these programs to help nurture the next generation of young scientists. Isabel has worked diligently from the moment she decided to obtain her bachelor’s degree in biology, and offers a few key points of advice for those interested in the science field. “Take things day by day, be determined to succeed, and sometimes it may become overwhelming but don’t give up.”
Isabel’s biggest accomplishment is continuing her education and being a role model for her children by showing them that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. She believes that education, knowledge, and an understanding of the natural resources that surround us are essential to making a difference in the communities we call home.
Sarah has been with the Edwards Aquifer Authority for five years. As the Lead GIS Analyst for the EAA, she oversees all the mapping needs both within the organization and the external mapping needs that keep the science and conservation programs running. Sarah completed her Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Systems from....
Sarah has been with the Edwards Aquifer Authority for five years. As the Lead GIS Analyst for the EAA, she oversees all the mapping needs both within the organization and the external mapping needs that keep the science and conservation programs running. Sarah completed her Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Systems from Texas State University and her Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies in a joint degree from Universitat Jaume I in Castellon, Spain, University of Munster, Germany, and the Institute Superior of Statistics and Information in Lisbon, Portugal.
Besides ensuring that the scientists at the EAA have every map they could ask for, Sarah also works with the City of San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer Protection Program. The CoSA EAPP covers over 150,000 acres of protected land that recharges the aquifer over eight counties. Within this program, Sarah and her colleagues monitor the lands enrolled in the easement programs. This analysis helps the EAA, the City of San Antonio, and the property owners who participate in the program preserve and protect the quality and quantity of water by keeping the land undeveloped in perpetuity.
Eason’s father brought her attention to GIS. She loved it from her first class and went on to get two degrees in the field. When asked why GIS, Sarah said “Mapping is like a puzzle; putting together the pattern is a lot of fun.” She has the right idea, as many of our scientists have stated, she is doing something she really enjoys.
The EAA employs many women interested in science and Sarah believes that anyone, male or female, with curiosity and a desire, can succeed in this field. People who are especially successful tend to be creative and come up with new ideas for many problems. This is an important trait when dealing with science and the public.
For girls who want to get involved in the science field, Sarah suggests taking chemistry, biology, geology and geography courses to get a broad understanding of how the world works. Quoting John Muir, Sarah says’ “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Understanding how systems are interrelated makes for a long-sighted person and being familiar with all of that knowledge helps a student of the sciences to many a bright future.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority’s first Women in Science spotlight is on hydrogeologist Jennifer Adkins. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in geology with a master’s focus on karst hydrogeology. While working on a research project for her master’s degree, she fell in love with the Edwards Aquifer. As graduate student at the....
The Edwards Aquifer Authority’s first Women in Science spotlight is on hydrogeologist Jennifer Adkins. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in geology with a master’s focus on karst hydrogeology. While working on a research project for her master’s degree, she fell in love with the Edwards Aquifer. As graduate student at the University of Arkansas, Jennifer completed a dual internship with the EAA and SWRI studying the Edwards Aquifer.
Jennifer joined the EAA six years ago as an environmental coordinator for the Aquifer Protection Team. Jennifer’s promotion to hydrogeologist in 2016 made her the first female hydrogeologist in the EAA’s 21-year history. One project she is currently working on is 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 hydraulic relationship between the two aquifers. This will reduce uncertainty, and provide insight into the management strategies required to properly protect the quantity and quality of water in the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers.
As a hydrogeologist, Jennifer serves as a project leader for various research projects and is in the field collecting water quality samples, conducting geologic surveys, and gathering and interpreting hydrologic data to ensure the aquifer, our area’s largest water supply, remains protected. Geology was a natural choice for Jennifer. Throughout her childhood, Jennifer 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 Jennifer’s. In fact, during her free time she enjoys things like caving, hiking, horseback riding and spending time with her family outdoors.
Jennifer feels like her greatest accomplishment as a scientist has happened right here at the EAA. Obtaining her Professional Geoscientist’s (P.G.) license and her promotion to hydrogeologist puts her where she wants to be in her career. Jennifer is passionate about her work at the EAA and a career in public service because she feels the mission of the EAA ensures that natural resources, like the Edwards aquifer are shared equitably and used wisely.
When asked how we go about getting more young women into scientific fields, Jennifer stated that girls need to see more women in the field to act as mentors and role models for young students. 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 Jennifer has been given, and the one piece of advice she would give others studying science, is to focus your efforts on what you are passionate about. Love what you do, and you will make a difference.