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Emily Edwards

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Emily Edwards, PhD Student, Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group, University of California, Davis
Mentee:  2012-2013 (career development, field methods, course work)

        I had my first in-depth interactions with Priya M. Ganguli while she was my teaching assistant for Prof. Andy Fisher’s Groundwater class at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2012. It was a challenging class, but Priya has the ability to take complex concepts and immediately explain them in terms tailored to the background of whomever she’s teaching. I’ve also worked with Priya in the field, doing water sample collection and preparation for analysis. I’m not a huge fan of fieldwork, and so the quality that I most appreciate in a fieldwork leader is the ability to get work done quickly and efficiently. Priya is amazingly organized, an excellent work delegator, and constantly has a smile on her face, which helps to keep a field team positive even when it’s early in the morning and pouring rain. 
        Groundwater ended up being one of the most influential classes I’ve ever taken, and Priya is a significant part of that. I had just switched to the Earth Sciences major a few weeks before starting the class, and was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my degree and what I could do with it, and because Priya was someone I saw as being both very successful and very approachable, I e-mailed to ask if she would take the time to meet with me and answer some of my questions. She responded immediately and we met to talk that day. I felt so much better after our conversation: we discussed the field in general, my options as I moved through it, and resources for women scientists. She made me feel like I belonged in the field of geoscience, and that I had an exciting future ahead of me. She gave me confidence, and having confidence in your abilities and chosen path is, to me, equally as important as having good grades and relevant experience in terms of being successful in a field.
        Priya is one of the most inspiring women, and humans, that I know. She’s smart, driven, and incredibly nice and approachable. I’ve never heard anything but praise from any of the students she’s taught, but what really amazes me is what she does that’s above and beyond what’s expected of her. The amount that Priya is able to accomplish while finding time to help anyone who asks is, honestly, miraculous. She either doesn’t sleep or is re-energized by helping people, and I’m more likely to believe the latter as extreme friendliness and inextinguishable positivity are not common traits among the sleep-deprived. I know that Priya has been through a lot in her life, and has faced many challenges that would have knocked the majority of us down. However, no matter what she is dealing with in her personal life, she always makes students feel like they are her priority and that she is there for them in whatever capacity they may need.
        Priya is part of the reason why I hope to work with undergraduates one day. She showed me how important it is to have someone who’s made a place for herself in her field to look back and say, “Hey! You can make it here, too!”. Sometimes students just need to be told that something is a possibility in order for it to become one. I was unsure if I belonged in a graduate program, and not only did Priya tell me that I was PhD caliber, but she took time from her busy schedule to write recommendation letters on my behalf and helped make my dream a reality.
        In short, she’s the best, and I’m extremely grateful that she’s been a part of my life. Whichever teaching institute she ends up a part of will be extraordinarily lucky to have her!