Spotlight on Natural Sciences and Humanities Alumni: Sarah Greene

Name: Sarah Greene
Education (UR and additional): B.S.  in Geological Sciences and B.A.  in German, University of Rochester, 2005, PhD in Geological Sciences, University of Southern California, 2011
Current city/state of residence: Bristol, United Kingdom
Job Title: Postdoctoral Researcher
Employer: University of Bristol
Family: Married
Community activities: Bristol Bach Choir, various science outreach activities for children

When and how did you choose your major?

I was thoroughly undecided when I started at UR. My freshman year I took classes in each of the three divisions to figure out what I liked best. My sophomore year I decided to major in both geology and German – the former I wanted to pursue as a career path and the latter because I had always wanted to learn a foreign language and to study abroad.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I lived on the Music Interest Floor, sang in Chamber Singers and Madrigal Singers, and formed a renaissance quartet with friends (Matt Hall ’04, Nils Klinkenberg, ’05, Erin (Sigmund) Kurup ’05). I participated in study abroad (I spent one summer in Berlin taking German classes and spent my junior year abroad at the University of Cologne) to become fluent in German. Serendipitously, it turns out there is a wealth of classic literature in my field (geology/paleontology) in German.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I spent a summer in South Florida doing research and a year in Germany on a Fulbright Fellowship in part to figure out whether I liked research and whether I wanted to pursue graduate school. Afterwards, I enrolled in the PhD program in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

Balancing work and personal life is still a work-in-progress for me. In academia there is constant pressure to publish and get funding. Job security is scarce and you may need to move (multiple times) before you find a tenure-track job (if you ever do). Having a spouse or a family complicates this even more – will they move with you or will you restrict your job search geographically? Many of my female colleagues struggle to figure out if and when they can have children without sacrificing their careers. For now, I have created some balance by doing my best to leave my work at work and setting aside time for the things I enjoy (singing, hiking, cooking, and gardening).

Where would you like to be in five years?

I am currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol in the UK. I hope this is a stepping stone to a faculty position at some point in the next few years so that I can continue doing research. I also love teaching and hope to find a job which involves teaching geology at the undergraduate and/or graduate level.

What advice do you have for current students?

No matter which major you pick, try to find time to study abroad! You won’t regret it.