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Why Women in the Purdue University College of Agriculture Got into Their Chosen Profession

Published May 12, 2016

Janna BeckermanJanna Beckerman (Photo by Tom Campbell)

Janna Beckerman, professor, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology: "I went into plant pathology because I found a work-study position in the forest pathology lab of Dr. Paul Manion. He encouraged me, which is really important because no little child ever said they wanted to be a plant pathologist when they grow up. I never thought I'd have such a great career and that I'd get to go all over the U.S. and to Europe, Asia and South America to study plant disease. I still need to get to Africa, though."

Candace CroneyCandace Croney (Photo by Tom Campbell)

Candace Croney, associate professor of comparative pathobiology and animal sciences, and director of the Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science: "I knew I wanted to work with animals from very early on. The only animal careers I was aware of growing up were farmer or veterinarian. So I began as so many other animal scientists did—as a pre-vet undergraduate student. There were a number of challenges I encountered as a minority student and as a woman from a different country and culture with no ag background. I wasn't always welcomed; my interest and place in the field were frequently questioned. But there were always people who were extremely encouraging and supportive. As I've advanced in my career, I've consistently felt an obligation to help other young women who aren't 'traditional' animal scientists find their place in the discipline and serve as mentors and supporters to others who wouldn't otherwise even consider a career in animal agriculture or science."

Monika IvantysynovaMonika Ivantysynova (Photo by Tom Campbell)

Monika Ivantysynova, Maha Named Professor of Fluid Power Systems, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering: "I originally aspired to study medicine while I was in high school. I never dreamed that I would take the path of an engineer. However, I was afraid of the idea of not being able to help people if their illness were stronger than what I could do for them as a doctor. It was because of my love for physics and math, paired with my strong will to do everything properly and to be successful, that I decided to study engineering instead of medicine."

Haley F. OliverHaley F. Oliver (Photo by Tom Campbell)

Haley F. Oliver, associate professor, Department of Food Science: "I stumbled into microbiology during my undergraduate career. Food safety allows me to combine my heritage with my love for microbes—no one likes diarrhea. I decided in 2008 as a graduate student that I was going to pursue a career as a well-trained scientist and a woman. I decided that I was going to be good at my job and wear lipstick at the same time. I embraced the risk of being myself as part of my commitment to ironing out some of the challenges women have faced as they pursue advanced degrees and careers in academia. Securing a faculty position and being successful in all while enjoying it isn't an easy thing, but I love challenges, or perhaps I'm just persistent."

Maria S. SepulvedaMaria S. Sepulveda (Photo by Tom Campbell)

Maria S. Sepulveda, professor and Showalter Faculty Scholar, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources: "I was inspired by my father, who was a physico-chemistry professor. He also loved the outdoors. This was the major driver for me to become an environmental scientist and professor. It has been an extremely satisfying career so far, especially as it relates to mentoring students."