Dr. Penny Morrill - Assistant Professor in Environmental Geochemistry

CurioCity Careers
29 January 2013

Dr. Penny Morrill

Assistant Professor in Environmental Geochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland

I have the career I have today because of all of the strong female role models that I have had throughout my life who all believed in me...

What is a typical day like for you?

Normally in a day I will teach a one-hour lecture to an undergraduate class, meet with my graduate students, work a bit in my laboratory, and write some part of a grant or paper to be published.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Designing experiments, planning field trips, going to conferences, and getting to know my students and colleagues.

What is the least enjoyable part of your job?

Marking exams.

Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).

COOP in Environmental Science at U of T, followed by a Ph.D. in Geology at U of T, followed by a research position at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington D.C., followed by another research position at McMaster University.

Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?

I have the career I have today because of all of the strong female role models that I have had throughout my life who all believed in me, including my Mom, my grade 11 Biology teacher, my Ph.D. supervisor, my research supervisor in Washington D.C., and many others.

What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?

You must love teaching and research to do this job. It can take a long time to become a professor. Don’t just focus on the end goal, enjoy yourself along the way. Graduate school and research positions are very fulfilling in and of themselves.

How does your job make a difference?

I try to be a positive female role model to all of my students. I would like to think that I am contributing to society at large by creating critical thinkers and informed citizens.

How do you use science, math and technology in your job?

Being a professor of Environmental Geochemistry I must use science and math every day. My laboratory is filled with analytical machines, which requires me to know a great deal about technology.

Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?

Shop Class! I guess I thought I wouldn’t need it… I was wrong.

What makes this job right for you?

I get to follow my own research interests. I get to work with others with similar interests. It is also nice that the work hours are flexible and the pay is good.

What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?

Calling my husband from the base of an active volcano in Siberia to tell him that my truck had broken down, but not to worry everything would work out just fine…. and it did.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

In addition to being a professor, I am also a mother. I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking with my family.

You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?

Unlist my phone number from the phone book.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit http://www.explorecuriocity.org/careers.

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