Chapter 3: Mom and Mentor

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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 Chief-of-Staff for Natural Hazards Martha Garcia.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:32

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.

Well, you know its kind of interesting because I’m a big pattern person. I see patterns in a lot of things. 

And my son actually when he was little…we used to get Smithsonian magazine…

and he had just studied the Fibonacci sequence in school.

And seeing all of these flowers he came to me, “Mom, look at this. This is the Fibonacci sequence.” 

And I was like, “Wow, that pretty cool.” 

Cause you know he was in the 5th grade. And he actually wrote a letter to Smithsonian magazine and they published it.

You know just yesterday I was talking to a young woman and she said, 

“Well, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with graduate school? 

I’m not sure how I fit in? I don’t know where I want to be long term?” 

And just those insecurities I think that we all have 

and for someone to see me 

whose done well at USGS. I keep reminding myself, 

you know, I’m just a little girl from Texas whose done well.

And I feel really proud where I’ve gone with my career. 

And I think…as a mother, 

as a woman in geosciences, 

I think its great to reach out to young women, in particular, 

to say, “you can do this.”

So, you know the great thing about the USGS and about science as a whole 

is that

your interests can go to a variety of different places. 

And your skills take you to 

all sorts of opportunities that you never thought about as a student.

I think that the science we do is amazing.

I mean I’ve done ecosystems, I’ve done global change, natural hazards, 

wildfires. Its just amazing the things I’ve been able to be involved with. 

You know, subsurface nuclear testing. Who’s involved with that?

Its just amazing the variety of science the USGS gets involved in and the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in those.

Now I’m the chief-of-staff for Natural Hazards.