(LA) Women in Water: Celebrating Women's History Month
#WomeninWater for #WomensHistoryMonth continues with CWH's own Staff Scientist, Ari Jong. Ari leads the design and implementation of performance monitoring programs for green infrastructure projects in the greater Los Angeles area. She is responsible for training and coordinating field teams to conduct stormwater and stream monitoring, as well as analyzing and presenting data related to performance monitoring of green infrastructure. As a Staff Scientist, Ari also leads on science communication, education, and outreach, which is one of her favorite parts of her job. She graduated from Chapman University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy and looks forward to pursuing her Ph.D. in the fall of 2018 focused on understanding how green infrastructure can be designed to mitigate the impact of climate change on water resources in Southern California.
Ari’s passion is focused on using science education and stakeholder engagement as tools for finding solutions to climate change and its associated impacts on water resources.
What was the path that brought you to where you are today?
It all started when I saw the film An Inconvenient Truth in high school; the film impressed upon me the urgency and magnitude of climate change and inspired me to take action. I applied to colleges as an Environmental Science major and as an undergraduate, started doing research on topics like the greenhouse gas production of wetland and artic soils. During a research internship at the Department of Energy national laboratory, I asked several scientists what they thought would be the most significant environmental issue in the future – virtually all of them said “water.” Since then, I’ve been focused on learning more about the impact of climate change on our water resources and how I can use my research and communication skills as a Staff Scientist to both generate new knowledge on the topic and convey that knowledge to the public.
What female leader inspires you?
Rachel Carson, late scientist and writer most famous for her authorship of Silent Spring, is an inspiration to me not only because she was well-known woman in science, but also because of her role as a science writer for the public.
What would you tell young scientist who want to work in your field?
A strong background in the hard sciences is important for success as an environmental scientist, but equally important is the ability to communicate the results of your work to those who are not experts in your field. In particular, environmental issues affect many groups and require an interdisciplinary approach to solve them – in other words, professionals in different fields must work together to come up with strategies to address them. If you as a scientist can’t convey the results of your research to others outside your field, how will you get your project funded, or affect policy, or help the end-users of the information understand what it means for them? If you want your work to have impact on environmental issues, focus on building your communication skills in addition to your technical skills.
What is the most exciting about working on water quality issues in Los Angeles?
As a scientist, I understand that data and the creation of new knowledge are important, but only insofar as they can be used to improve the well being of communities and the Earth. That's why I focus my work on water issues, especially in Southern California - increased warming due to climate change is projected by the majority of climate scientists to lead to longer droughts followed by more intense downpours of rain in the western U.S. Angelenos need to be prepared for the major challenges facing the region by supporting efforts to secure clean and sustainable source of water for drinking and play we have access to clean water to drink and play in. That's why I love working on green infrastructure projects - projects that capture the water from storms and add the treated water to our local water supply - because I know I'm helping to ensure our water security. It also means I get to go out and collect samples in the rain, which is always an adventure!
Check out our next blog to read about California State University Northridge, Danielle Bram