Sampling bright-red paleosols of the Triassic Chinle Fm. in Utah. July 2017.

I’m Rebecca Dzombak, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. After graduating magna cum laude from Michigan with a B.S. in both Earth & Environmental Sciences and Communication Studies, I took a year off to work in the Continental Environments Research Group (CERG) lab there. After careful consideration, I decided to stay on and pursue my PhD in Ann Arbor – forever Go Blue!

My research interests revolve around using low-temperature geochemical tools to investigate terrestrial systems, both past and present, and how they have co-evolved with life and the atmosphere. Broadly, I am interested in essential nutrient cycling in soils and how these systems have changed over time. I am also concerned with spatial heterogeneity in terrestrial systems and how this may impact interpretations of the rock record, as well as how reflective regional records are of global climate.

During my first year of graduate school, I became involved with the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) by joining a mentoring circle, where I was introduced to a group of passionate, smart, normal women pursuing their STEM degrees. After being a member for two years, I joined our board as Director of Communications; along with mentoring students in lab, this has been a highlight of my academic career thus far. I am expanding the role with two goals in mind: giving women in STEM the strong support network we need to succeed and to inspire the next generation of female scientists, and to provide voices and visibility to traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM, therefore making STEM fields appear more accessible and familiar. These are ultimately accomplished by improving our members’ ability to communicate science clearly and passionately. To that end, I have sought to recognize Michigan women in STEM via our social media and on our website; I have also created a collaborative blog which serves as a safe platform for us to share our stories and advice. I am excited to see where this role takes me over the coming years, and how I can give back to a community that has been so supportive for me.

Outside of lab, I enjoy running, making and consuming baked goods, building things, napping with my cats, and reading (for fun!).