Profile: Caitlin Ahrens (PhD Student, University of Arkansas)

Caitlin Ahren
Name:
 Caitlin Ahrens

Job Role: PhD. Graduate Student, Space & Planetary Science

Organisation: University of Arkansas, Arkansas, U.S

Education Background:

B.S. Physics (concentration Astrophysics),

B.S. Geology: West Virginia University, West Virginia. Graduated in 2015.


1. What inspired you to take up a career in the Geosciences?

When I was younger, I would constantly take rocks home with me and study them. I then learned about different branches of geology and thought seismology was fascinating due to my father’s hobby of learning science. Through this, I participated in science fairs and learned the importance of collaboration. At age 18, I had been given the title Assignee of a seismology-related patent. From then on I have branched out to other interesting branches of geosciences, including the mineralogy on other planets and how there are different ices in space.

2. Can you give more detail about your path to your current job role?

I had interned at the USGS Astrogeology Team in Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S. to learn about the mineralogy of Martian dunes and their formations. This internship provided me insights to even more branches in the planetary geoscience field. Knowing the thermal signatures of specific minerals has brought me to my current position of studying Pluto.

3. What does your current job role involve?

My current job involves the spectroscopic signatures of ices and gases that we would see on the surface of Pluto and apply that to images taken from the New Horizons. I manage the Pluto Simulation Chamber at the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Space Simulations at the University of Arkansas. I work at temperatures at nearly -369 degrees Fahrenheit!

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Every week at my job is like it’s own adventure. You go in and explore the possibilities of the science. I constantly ask questions and make geology drawings of the physics behind the rocks and ice.

5. Why do you think it’s important to encourage more girls into the Geosciences?

I could answer this question as a pun and say that “Girls Rock!” But in seriousness, I urge every girl who wants to explore the Geosciences to take that adventure. If you have a question or find something that interests you, go forward with it. Talk to local professors and graduate students, join Twitter or other social media to get caught up in recent findings. The important thing, it’s not science in the end- it’s YOUR SCIENCE.

6. If you could give a piece of advice to girls currently thinking about a career in the Geosciences, what would it be?

There will be times when something that was fascinating becomes dull or already solved. That’s okay. There are so many branches of the Geosciences out there. All it takes is a little innovation. If you have something that interests you, see how many ways you can apply that to other branches- or even other sciences!


Learn more about careers in the Geosciences at our ‘Girls into Geosciences’ event on 4th July. Book your place today: girlsintogeoscience@plymouth.ac.uk  or Tel (01752) 585975.

You can also follow our event on twitter @girlsingeosci

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