Priya M. Ganguli

Priya M. Ganguli
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

2015 Doris M. Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award

Presented to Priya M. Ganguli

Citation by Katherine R.M. Mackey

It is my honor to present Dr Priya M. Ganguli as this year's recipient of the Doris Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award. Dr Ganguli's dissertation, entitled "Mercury Speciation and Transport at the Land-Sea Margin," is an impressive analysis of the physical and chemical factors affecting coastal mercury dynamics. Her work involves extensive field and laboratory measurements while applying geological, hydrological, chemical, physical, meteorological, and biogeochemical methods. Dr. Ganguli’s research greatly expands our appreciation of groundwater as a source of mercury to the coastal ocean. As a result of Dr Ganguli's efforts and leadership, this sub-field is now a rapidly growing area of research that has been embraced by many leading mercury geoscientists. Dr Ganguli's inclusion of dozens of undergraduate students in her research points to her dedication to conducting innovative studies while nurturing the next generation of scientists. Please join me in congratulating Dr Ganguli on these impressive achievements.

top2015 Doris M. Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award — Response by Priya M. Ganguli

I am deeply honored to be the 2015 recipient of the Geological Society of America Doris M. Curtis Outstanding Woman in Science Award. This recognition is a tribute to the many individuals who have been an integral part of my career. I look forward to upholding the values Dr. Curtis exemplified, and will continue to promote societal interest in earth sciences and encourage diversity in STEM.

Foremost, I thank the almost 40 undergraduate field and lab volunteers whose dedication made my research possible. Their enthusiasm in the face of inclement weather and long hours sustained my motivation – they embody the wonderment of science. I especially appreciate the contributions of Jenn Cossaboon, Rachel Hohn, Nick Kehrlein, Jeremy Merckling, Cruz Ortiz, Christina Richardson, Lydia Jennings, and Caroline Collins.

I owe my enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research and my passion for teaching to my PhD advisor, Russ Flegal. His collaborations enabled me to build a professional network early in my career and taught me the importance of approaching research questions from multiple perspectives. Furthermore, his dedication to undergraduate research provided mentoring opportunities and confirmed my own commitment to teaching. I am also grateful to the WIGS lab family Russ created. In particular, I benefited from the guidance of Sharon Hibdon, who provided the foundation of my lab and field training. I pattern my own mentoring style after her patient and generous nature. My graduate work was also made possible by the support of additional lab mates, including Kingsley Odigie, Cheryl Zurbrick, Kit Conaway, Céline Gallon, Genine Scelfo, Frank Black, Khalil Abu-Saba, Elena Ramirez, Jonathan Crick, Lindsay Whalin, and Martha Thomas.

I am profoundly thankful for the friendship and support of Kate Mackey, who nominated me for this award. Her capacity for linking biological and geochemical processes has enabled me to explore new areas of research. Kate’s enthusiasm for science is contagious – I have observed students come alive during her lectures and know she is fostering the next generation of scientists. I have personally benefited from both Kate Mackey and Aradhna Tripati’s commitment to academic diversity and admire their ability to effectively interface with individuals at all levels. The paths they are forging enable – and inspire – students from underrepresented groups to embark on careers in science.

I am also extremely grateful to Carl Lamborg, my dissertation committee member and postdoctoral advisor at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Due to Carl’s innovative research and approachable nature, he is involved in multiple collaborations. My participation in many of these projects has inspired my scientific curiosity and allowed me evolve as a researcher. Individuals affiliated with Carl’s lab, including Gretchen Swarr, Anjali Kumar, and Koffi Yao, have become valuable colleagues.

My additional PhD committee members, Peter Swarzenski, Andy Fisher, and Jim Zachos, were also instrumental to my dissertation research. Their scientific input and enthusiasm strengthened my resolve and I benefit greatly from their continued support. In particular, Peter Swarzenski is one of my strongest advocates and his mentorship made my PhD research possible. I also appreciate Rob Mason for sparking my initial interest in mercury biogeochemistry, as well as Adina Paytan for introducing me to the importance of coastal groundwater discharge. Similarly, Mark Marvin-DiPasquale, Lisamarie Windham-Myers, and Natasha Dimova have helped shape my career.

This award is also a tribute to the ongoing encouragement of the Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Many UCSC faculty have been inspiring mentors – particularly Quentin Williams, Hilde Schwartz, Matt McCarthy, and Ken Bruland. I am especially grateful for the kindness and assistance of the UCSC administrative staff – they play an essential role in the progress of research and education. In particular, Jennifer Fish and Cathy Smith in the EPS office, as well as Jane deVette, Kitty Mooney, and John Coha have supported me in countless ways.

Many organizations funded my dissertation research. Notably, Friends of Long Marine Lab, Myers Trust Foundation, and Younger Lagoon Reserve have done a remarkable job promoting graduate and undergraduate research, with special thanks to Beth Howard, Maria Choy, and Lisa Rose. Additionally, the Switzer Foundation’s commitment to their Fellows is exceptional and I have benefited from the input of Lissa Widoff, Erin Lloyd, and Lauren Hertel. Funding from the UCSC EPS Department, UCSC Graduate Division, UC Toxics Program, IMS/Packard Foundation, NorCal SETAC, and C.DELSI also sustained my work. Furthermore, I recognize these awards reflect the effort and support of my letter writers.

My undergraduate education at Indiana University (IU) played a critical role in my trajectory. My research advisors, Bob Wintsch (IU) and Mick Kunk (US Geological Survey, USGS), invested in my future as a scientist, and the department as a whole – especially Abhijit Basu – inspired my fascination with geology. I have benefited tremendously from my postdoctoral experience at WHOI and the USGS as well. I offer an enormous debt of gratitude to Meagan Gonneea and Kevin Kroeger, my USGS collaborators, for providing a research infrastructure. I also value the support of Jen O'Keefe Suttles, Michael Casso, Mike Bothner, and Neil Ganju of the USGS, as well as Mary Zawoysky, Janet Fields, Yina Liu, Dawn Moran, Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Britta Voss, Colleen Hansel, Tracy Mincer, and Kristen Whalen of WHOI.

My accomplishments are shared with a host of friends and family. In addition to those named above, I will be forever grateful to Roger Brewer, Milada Majerova, Michal Hradisky, Curtis and Terri Scott, Cheryl Harrison, Kerri Johnson, Rich Hogen, Kelley Boller, Neeloffer Mookherjee, and Dustin Lippert for seeing me through the toughest moments. My Water Board colleagues – notably Dyan Whyte, Carrie Austin, David Elias, Tina Low, Lila Tang, Bob Schlipf, Jill Marshall, Yuri Won, Ron Gervason, and Richard Looker – motivated me to return to graduate school. Most importantly, I cherish the unconditional support of my family. Sabkha and Belle have been my constants on this journey. My sister, Shonti Ganguli, inspires me with her determination. My parents, Supriya and Nancy Ganguli, encouraged my curiosity about the world.

I dedicate this honor to the memories of my parents and Sharon Hibdon.