Dr. Pamela Sullivan, Academy Alumna and Associate Professor of Geology and Geophysics at Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and daughter of Upper Division Director Robert Sullivan, spoke to Ms. Mahoney’s Environmental Science class last week. Dr. Sullivan explained to the students that the world of research is riddled with one failed experiment after the other and that today’s scientists had to be resilient and creative in their efforts to examine how human and climatic perturbations will drive the evolution of terrestrial Earth. In order to meet the challenges ahead, researchers need to be open to help from everyone—people of different ethnic backgrounds, races, beliefs, etc. She advised the young women in the group to seek out mentors that would be supportive of their careers much like the women who helped her in pursuit of her doctorate and two post-doctorate experiences.
Twenty five years ago, when she was in middle school at Academy at the Lakes, we all knew this accomplished professional simply as Pam. She had Mrs. Heller who helped her overcome her reluctance to read. She had Ms. Ivie for math. Pam was a charter member of the National Junior Honor Society and a member of Academy’s first volleyball basketball, and soccer teams. She also cheered. Dr. Sullivan went on to remind her audience that she, too, was once just like them. She had little idea what the future held for her, but her education helped her to take advantage of the opportunities that came her way and she asked a ton of questions on her journey.