As recognition for research and work, Professor of Geochemistry and Environmental Geology Dr. Kristina Faul
was featured in the Oceanography Society‘s report “Women in Oceanography: A Decade Later.”
Faul has been teaching at Mills College since 2003 and became head of the Environmental Science Department at Mills in 2012. Faul’s interests include oceans of the past and their effects on oceans in the future, oceanography and paleoceanography. Currently Faul is concentrating her research on biogeochemical cycles in the San Francisco Bay’s watersheds.
Q. What motivates your interest in understanding nutrient dynamics and biological productivity of the ocean? What made you pursue this interest?
A. I think I’ve always been interested in science … I went to college planning on being an astronomer, but I think that I really like earth science better because it was more down to earth – literally. I could go into the field and into the lab and do something that was more hands on versus astronomy. In college [between 1989 and 1993] people were just starting to think about climate change; it was the new hot topic. But that’s how I got interested in it. There was also one professor I had when I was an undergrad. I had a conversation with her and actually worked with her on a research project. I think that is what set me up with this interest.
Q. What has kept you grounded in your field of study?
A. I think my friends and colleagues in the field. I meet with a few other professor moms once every couple of months and talk things out. Also, my great colleagues here in the department in chemistry and in biology. My husband keeps me grounded, my kids keep me grounded and my [religious] faith keeps me grounded.
Q. What has been your best reward in pursuing oceanography?
A. I think there are two things. One I would say is the excitement of discovery … and I would say the other piece is collaboration.
Q. If there is anything you could do differently in pursuing your interests, research, degrees, etc., what would it be?
A. I think for the most part I made the best decisions I could at the time, given the information that I had. You’re always balancing your career and your personal life. If I were to go back, I would have made the same ones as they were mostly about juggling both parts of my life … I think I would’ve studied more when I was an undergrad. I would’ve gotten help earlier if I was stuck on things.
Q. What do you look forward to in your field in the future?
A. I am looking forward to continuing to make contributions to my field while also mentoring students and trying to help others be excited about not only paleoceanography because it’s such a small field, but also science in general.