Out of the Lab and into the World

by Geetika Joshi

Geetika Joshi and Jonathan London

November, 2014. Geetika Joshi joins CRC Director Jonathan London in preparing a sumptuous Indian dinner for colleagues, friends and family, celebrating the achievements of the CRC-UCD Collaboration Center partnership in 2014.

I joined the CRC in the summer of 2013 and stayed on as a post-doctoral researcher during 2014. As a graduate student working on environmental microbiology, this was an opportunity for me to get a taste of regional environmental issues. My project at the CRC aimed to develop effective relationships between multiple partners, such as biologists, medical science experts, engineers, regulatory agency personnel, environmental justice advocates and social scientists. The goal was to create a process that would allow community partners to help shape priorities for environmental and health science research. I worked closely with Jonathan London and Tara Zagofsky, and had the opportunity to learn from them about community engagement, facilitation and conflict resolution. This was a great addition to my skills as a research scientist. These skills were instrumental (along with my scientific background, of course) in helping me successfully interview for my current position at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The CRC helped me take my rigorous scientific training out of the lab and into the world, beyond publications and academic conferences. I was, in a sense, like any product of environmental science research. Ideas are often born in a lab, tested out in the field, and eventually applied on a larger scale, in communities, where they improve people’s lives, lead to new inventions or products, or shape policy. I followed a similar path. I started at UC Davis by training in Soils and Biogeochemistry with Professor Kate M. Scow, then moved on to the CRC, and am now working for the State of California.

My experience at the CRC has also been emotionally rewarding. It helped me utilize my scientific skills and my love of science and science communication to focus on public engagement. I also gained a regional perspective and context in my areas of professional interest. This helped strengthen a “love for the land” In my heart and mind. I discovered a community outside the portals of academia. This has helped California feel more and more like a second home to me. As an immigrant far away from the home I grew up in, I find this has been a great personal gain. I feel fortunate to have worked with the entire CRC team, and am especially honored to have worked with Jonathan and Tara, who inspire great love and respect from all of their colleagues.

Dr. Geetika Joshi was born and raised in New Delhi, India, where she studied microbiology before joining the Soils and Biogeochemistry Ph.D. program at UC Davis. Her doctoral research with Professor Kate M. Scow focused on the role of microbes in the degradation of groundwater pollutants. At Davis, she fell in love with soils, while also exploring her interest in international development with the UC Davis chapter of Engineers Without Borders. It was her quest to connect the public with the sometimes esoteric world of scientific research that led her to work with the CRC.

Dr. Joshi also works with local museums to pursue her interest in science communication. In her leisure time, she loves to cook, especially desserts, and catch up on non-academic reading. She currently works as an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.