Honoring Women in STEM: Beth Ann Eberle

What is your area of expertise and what is your research focus?

I have a background in hydrogeology. My research focus is primarily water quality, using hydrogeochemistry and remote sensing techniques.

How did you end up in STEM?

My mother is a chemist. The “take your kid to work” days with her were awesome and instilled my interest in science. Then I took an Earth science class in middle school. It bolstered my hobby of rock collecting and showed me an amazing pathway to explore and understand the Earth.

What hurdles or challenges (big or small) did you find as you pursued your career in STEM? What challenges do you face today?

Many people do not know what I do in my research. They don’t understand that “hydrology” is the study of water or that “geosciences” is the broad study of the Earth, not just geology. It’s a little disheartening to explain my research topic so often, but I appreciate those willing to listen and learn.

What or who was an inspiration or support for you?

My mother is inspirational. She is an amazing scientist, whose successful career can be measured by the number of people she has helped and the number of problems she has solved.

Why is it important for women to be in STEM and specifically your field?

Geosciences is historically predominately male. It is really intimidating for young women who want to pursue the geosciences or even just explore the natural world. It is difficult for young women to visualize themselves in the geosciences field. Seeing other women in STEM makes it a more comfortable realm and gives them relatable examples of flourishing scientists or engineers.

What can be done to recruit more women into STEM?

I believe that introducing STEM in early education, encouraging those young women, and showing them examples of prosperous women in STEM is vital. While not all of these young students will go into pure STEM, many will incorporate STEM into their careers. The introduction to STEM will benefit their lives and influence their perspectives.

What advice would you give to girls and young women going into STEM?

Don’t give up on your dreams! It’s going to be tough, but you are not alone. There are many women who paved the way forward in STEM. Utilize their strength and the support of your peers.

Is there anything else you would like to add on the subject of women in STEM?

The Association for Women Geoscientists is an amazing national organization. Penn State has a prosperous chapter that actively supports women geoscientists, organizes community engagement, and hosts many successful women in STEM.