About Me

I'm Becca Dzombak, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. I'm a biogeochemist interested in the co-evolution of the biosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere on Earth.

 

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Outreach & service

Women in STEM

Association for Women in Science

I've been involved with AWIS since my first year in grad school, first as a member and then on the Board of Directors. As Director of Communications, I've been working to highlight members of our STEM community and to give them a platform to share their experiences as women in science. Having had a positive lab and department environment that made me feel so welcome and confident imprinted in me the importance of providing that same support for incoming potential members of our community.

Mentorship

Working with undergraduates in lab has been, hands-down, the best part of grad school. I've assembled a small squad of dedicated, motivated, intelligent (coincidentally) women who are learning how to carry out research and forging their own paths in lab. Not to be cliche, but it certainly feels like I'm learning as much from this experience as they are. (I'm excited to go to the field in May with one of my students, who just received a GSA undergraduate research grant!)

Department culture

Graduate student retreat

As part of the GeoClub board, I helped arrange our first annual grad student retreat. Twenty grad students, one giant house on Lake Michigan, and one unexpected blizzard made for a weekend to remember! We have been promoting work-life balance, and this was a great new tradition.

Undergraduate and peer mentorship

Not all undergrads are fortunate enough to have a close relationship with a graduate student, either through working in a lab or being in classes, and often hesitate to ask grad students for their time because they feel like it would be an inconvenience. I am working to establish a mentoring program between grad and undergraduate students to make sure that our students are getting the support they need to be successful and confident.

As a graduate student mentor, I have also established a grad student peer mentoring program in which we partner younger grad students with older students and post-docs. Through informal coffee meetings, students make new connections and make the department feel a little bit closer together.

Science communication

Science writing

Microplastics in the air, our soils, and our food

Why we need the Anthropocene

I also serve as editor for the UM AWIS blog.

Public outreach

World Soils Day - introduced paleosols to the public!