Marina Bianca Suarez

I am a paleoclimatologist and stable isotope geochemist. I always knew I wanted to be a scientist and a professor. This is somewhat unusual for most geoscientist who discover geosciences a little later in their educations. I can trace my origin and evolution as a geoscientist to about 2-3 factors...First, I am very short. My twin sister and I are under 5-foot. I'm also super clumsy (though I still like to play sports...it works out...I just fall a lot). My mom always told me to "watch where you are going" so for me that was looking down...I'm pretty close to the ground to start! On the ground were lots of fun sparkly rocks and fossils...so I collected them. I always thought I'd dig up a dinosaur in my back yard. Second, and I know this seems silly....I loved Indiana Jones as a kid. One of my favorite movies. It is horribly inaccurate, stereotypical male, and also not a geologist, but I loved the idea of adventures. I thought if being a professor meant adventures...I want to do that! Third, my mom always valued education and even on our limited budget found opportunities for us to explore. This included going to the museum, going hiking, public library visits, and going to the zoo and botanical center. The love of dinosaurs never rubbed off, and when I entered undergrad (Trinity University), I declared immediately as a geology major with the idea of becoming a vertebrate paleontologist. Well, there's not a lot of grad positions in vert paleo so I didn't immediately find a home in vert paleo (though I still volunteered for positions in vert paleo). My master's degree ended up focusing on sedimentary geology and depositional environments of a dinosaur location in Utah. I attended Temple University in Philadelphia. I had gotten to know my advisor (Dennis Terry) there through a summer internship at Badlands National Park. During my field work for my master's research, I met another person that would become my mentor. Greg Ludvigson (Kansas Geological Survey). He was interested in my work and introduced me to my PhD co-advisor Luis Gonzalez (The University of Kansas). This was the first time that I ever had a geology mentor that was "like me." I never really thought about it but it was certainly comforting to have a mentor who understood my background. Luis offered me a graduate assistant in his stable isotope lab and that is where I finally got over my fear of chemistry and became proficient at it! After a post-doc at Johns Hopkins University, I was very happy to accept a position in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. I love San Antonio, and would have liked to stick around there, but recently, I was contacted by my alma mater (KU) to come back to KU. I have accepted and I am starting a new chapter in Kansas.