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Emily Osborne
Katie Valentine

Emily Osborne

Dr. Emily Osborne is a program manager for the NOAA Arctic Research Program, where she is responsible for developing budget plans, providing support for research campaigns and representing NOAA's work within the agency as well as in the interagency and international space. 

What drew you to your current career or field?

From a very young age, I spent a great deal of time hiking with my dad in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and fell in love with the outdoors and the natural word around me. My dad, an engineer, persistently encouraged me to learn about and pursue a career in a STEM field, buying me a microscope and molecular models for some of my earliest birthdays. Because of this experience and support from my dad, I was drawn to environmental science and the overwhelming urge to help effect positive change in the world. After studying geology in college, I matriculated to graduate research studying paleoclimate science and ocean acidification.

While I greatly enjoyed my graduate field and laboratory work, I often felt like the results from my research were only reaching a community who were already well versed and aware of climate change issues. Following graduate school, I decided to change gears and accepted a Knauss Fellowship that brought me to Washington, D.C. to the forefront of the science-policy interface, where I began working at NOAA with the Arctic Research Program. I have found my job at NOAA to be so rewarding because of the platform to communicate the importance of earth and climate science to a broad audience.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The people. The passion I have witnessed of the scientists that I work with in the Arctic Research Program and the tireless work of the employees around me at NOAA is a constant source of inspiration. It's been truly eye-opening to see how the work of these few people impact the world in a pretty big way through their science. 

Who do you look to as a role model and why?

There are a few special people that I look to in life as role models. These are people have invested time and energy in helping me grow and building my confidence as a young woman and scientist. This investment was a commitment that came with no expectation of a return and for that I am forever grateful. The majority (but not all) of them are women who were scientists in the 70s and 80s who faced unwelcoming male-dominated field camps and laboratories and knocked down walls making my life as a female scientist easier today. These are the women I aspire to be like in my lifetime. 

What does success mean to you?

Being wholly happy (in both life and work) and leaving the world a better place than I found it. 

Looking back, what advice would you give to a woman just starting out in her career?

Don't let science and math scare you — it can come to you as easily as English or history as long as you keep your mind open and have a curiosity to learn. You can grow up to be a scientist even if you don't look like the ones you see on TV and in magazines. For early career females, find a support system and mentor in your work space that can be your foundation, lift you up and motivate you to break the mold. Don't be intimidated when you're the only woman in a room — be empowered by the change you are effecting. 

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