Why Women in the Purdue University College of Agriculture Got into Their Chosen Profession
Published May 12, 2016
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 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 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. 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. 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