Staff Geologist, Roux Associates
The University of Pennsylvania, Master of Science in Applied Geosciences ’20
Kalamazoo College, Bachelor of Arts in Biology ’17
When Emma Tardiff (Master of Science in Applied Geosciences `20) started her master’s degree at Penn, she did not expect that her path at Penn would take her into an environmental consulting career. “I didn’t even know that was a field I could work in,” she laughs. After graduating with a major in biology from a research-focused undergraduate institution, Emma enrolled in the Master of Environmental Studies at Penn with the intent to focus on environmental biology. Once she began taking classes, however, she began to shift her focus to the Master of Science in Applied Geosciences (MSAG). “I became interested in environmental consulting work because, in that industry, you are truly at the forefront of environmental remediation efforts,” she recalls. “I thought the MSAG program would give me the technical skills necessary to get into that field.”
Emma was able to transfer her master’s degree credits into a hydrogeology concentration and take courses geared toward environmental consulting. “Coming from a biology background, it’s been a seamless and natural progression into geology,” she reflects. “Those fields are very separate, but they do intersect with one another, and it’s been fun to play off of my biology knowledge while I’m learning about geology.” In the MSAG program, Emma appreciated the small, collaborative classroom environment and the opportunities to participate in events and networking opportunities. “Networking is key in the program,” she advises. “Definitely get involved and go to career fairs and happy hours, because people who have been through the MSAG program really know the quality of the program.”
Emma’s career path provides a perfect example. While helping to plan a panel for MSAG alumni to discuss their careers, she met a project manager at an environmental consulting firm that provides on-site investigation and remediation work in New York and New Jersey. When Emma encountered the same alumna at the All-Ivy Career Fair later that year, she found that they had plenty of common ground—and their conversation culminated in an interview for a full-time position as a staff geologist for the firm. “We’re working for clients who want to clean up old industrial sites or bring sites up to environmental standards, and it’s really cool to be a part of the process of coming up with solutions,” says Emma. “I do a combination of fieldwork and office work, and the job is fast-paced and challenging.” She also sees firsthand the challenges of developing remediation solutions across state boundaries, which is a key element of her capstone project with the Delaware River Basin Commission.
“The MSAG team is very supportive of students like me who are working full time and taking classes at night,” Emma adds. “I get a lot of experiential learning while I’m on the job, and the faculty help you tailor a capstone project that is both applicable to what you do professionally and realistic in terms of the time constraints you have.”