Margaret Anne Hinkle
Assistant Professor of Geology, Washington and Lee University
BS, Sewanee: The University of the South
PhD, Washington University in St. Louis
I came to the geosciences late in my undergraduate career - second semester my senior year at Sewanee. At the time, I was a chemistry major who loved inorganic chemistry, so I signed up for the Advanced Inorganic Chemistry course that semester. The topic just happened to be environmental geochemistry. I had enjoyed chemistry before, but environmental geochemistry taught me to love chemistry. Learning that I had the ability to apply chemical concepts to understand the Earth led to a huge shift (tectonic shift, dare I say?) in my career path. I found a career that would let me combine my chemical knowledge with my love of the outdoors and my interest in environmental systems. I knew I wanted teaching to be a large part of my job, so the idea of obtaining a PhD degree so that I can get back to the classroom fit perfectly with my newfound interest in environmental geochemical research. I graduated with a BS in chemistry, took a year off, and then enrolled in a PhD program in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. At Washington University, I worked with the aqueous geochemistry lab, researching the interactions of reactive and common minerals with water contaminants and micronutrients. After earning my PhD, I received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Mineral Sciences Department at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, working on the biomineralization of manganese oxides by fungi. When the opportunity to teach at Washington and Lee came up, I jumped at the chance. I love that my job lets me work in a lab, design experiments, go out into the field, and teach. One thing I love about geology is how there is something for almost everyone - physics, chemistry, biology, coding, the outdoors, adventure, travel, lab work, modeling, gems, etc. - each of the many geology subdisciplines combines a few of these. If any of this interests you, I am happy to help you navigate your own journey in the geosciences.
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