Tufts University  |  School of Arts and Sciences  |  School of Engineering  |  Find People  | 


Alumni: Emily Voytek, Class of 2008

Current Employment
Hydrologist, U. S. Geological Survey, Storrs, CT

Emily's Story

The only thing I was sure of when I got to Tufts was that I didn't want to end up working in a cubicle later in life. Thankfully my freshman advisor encouraged me to take Geology 1. By the second week of class, during our first field trip, I was ready to declare a Geology major. I was thrilled to find a way to combine my academic interests in science, math and logic with my personal interest in the outdoors.

While at Tufts I had the chance to put what I was learning in the classroom to work in the real world by participating in many local field trips, two week-long trips to the Southwest and a six-week field camp in Montana. In addition, I spent one summer working with Jack Ridge on the North American Glacial Varve Project. During this project I worked alongside the drill rig to preserve soil samples for later analysis. The field awareness and critical-thinking skills I gained during these experiences while at Tufts continue to benefit me today.

After Tufts, I started a Master's in Geology at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). My research involved analyzing the glacial sediments preserved underneath Lake Superior using seismic reflection geophysics. Data collection for the project required multiple 10-day trips onboard an 80-ft research vessel. We worked around the clock: collect data, eat, sleep, and repeat. Unlike previous land-based projects I'd worked on there was no opportunity to pick up any forgotten supplies once we were out on the water, thorough logistics planning was must.

While at UMD I was fortunate enough to complete a summer internship with the USGS Branch of Geophysics. During my first summer with the USGS I learned about many other geophysical techniques including: electrical resistivity, GPR and fiber-optic temperature sensing. As I learned more, I was also given more independence to design and run my own projects. During one field project I decided the large field vehicle I had been given was impractical for the small roads I was working on, so I rented a bicycle and trailer to carry my equipment instead. At the end of the summer I had to return to Minnesota to complete my degree. However, after I finished I went back to work at the same USGS office, which is where I continue to work today.

Every day at my job is different, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Some days I am in the office processing data or developing code for others to use. Other days I spend in the field collecting data and teaching USGS employees around the country how to properly use equipment and interpret data. In the past year, I have worked in Biscayne Bay, Florida (more boats), in the mountains of Colorado, and in remote areas of Alaska requiring float plane transportation. No cubicles for me!