Chapter 2: Uranium Miner's Daughter

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Detailed Description

USGS video series highlighting the individuals who make up the U.S. Geological Survey. We are USGS, these are our stories. This episode focuses on USGS research engineer Tanya Gallegos.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:47

Location Taken: Los Angeles, CA, US


I was always participating in Science Fairs
and things like that. So I always did well

in science and math-related courses.

I’ve typically not been afraid to take a
bit of a risk here and there. So, we’ll

see how that goes.

I remember being at the beach and most kids
are building sandcastles and I’m timing

when the waves are coming in to see if there
is a pattern.

When I was growing up my dad was a uranium
miner. And he always emphasized the importance

of going to school and getting a good education.
So he always encouraged us to do well in school.

And through that endeavor I was always participating
in Science Fairs and things like that. So

I always did well in science and math-related

Obviously uranium mining is a dangerous job,
it’s a tough job, but he wanted better for

us. So he thought by getting an education
we could have more opportunities to do other


There was a time when I was at University
of Michigan studying arsenic in aquifers and

trying to figure out methods to clean up aquifers.
And I wondered what I was going to do beyond

my PhD. And I went home for a Christmas break
or something like that and I saw the local

newspapers and they talked about the contamination
from uranium mining. And I though, “Oh my

gosh, I’m totally equipped to work on these
kind of subjects.” And it totally sparked

me. And it excited me. And it gave me a passion
to do something with my science.

As I was finishing up my PhD I noticed an
advertisement in one of the scientific journals

for a Mendenhall post doc to study the environmental
impacts of uranium mining and I knew that

job was for me. So I applied for the job and
6 months later I found out I got the position.

So I did a post doc at USGS.

Coming to USGS allowed me the opportunity
to work with other really knowledgeable scientists

in the subject area and to gain that knowledge.
And to apply it to both contamination issues,

as well as new mining issues. To understand
better ways to do uranium mining and other

types of energy development. It’s a really
exciting place to be because there are so

many other scientists who have a broad knowledge
base that I can learn from.