DEP Women in STEM: Lina Cerquera

Name: Lina M. Cerquera

Division/Title: Office of Emergency Response – Environmental Consultant

How long have you been with DEP: 4 years

Education/Background: Bachelors of Science – Biological Sciences

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM? It was a challenge that provided many opportunities to me, anything from medical to construction to environmental career opportunities.

What profession did you think you would be when you were growing up? Dentist

What excites you about your work at DEP? I am making a lasting, and most of the time immediate, difference on the planet God entrusted to you and me, one incident at time.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why? Gasoline fuel tanker roll-overs are pretty exciting. Though LEOs may not enjoy it, it is pretty cool to shut down a piece of an interstate highway, stand in the middle of it, all while ensuring the safety of first responders and the community. Being able to remediate a site impacted by thousands of gallons of fuel prior to the material reaching our ground waters definitely leaves you with a gratifying feeling.

What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job?Handheld Chemical Identification Analyzers are definitely one of my favorites! The ones we use utilize Raman and Infrared Spectroscopy to assist us in identifying unknown liquids and solids in the field to assist us in making key decisions on how to safely handle a material and determine what the mitigating goals should be for different sites, all at our fingertips!

Why is it important to get more students, including females, interested in STEM? The challenges we face on this planet today (anything from agriculture to infrastructure) need to be met with some hardcore critical thinking skills. Meeting, not the immediate demands, but the demands of future generations – worldwide, is a huge challenge. STEM can assist young minds in developing this mindset. The U.S. National Science Foundation reports that 8 percent of the U.S. general population is made up of Hispanic women, but only 2 percent of them are represented in the Science and Engineering fields. I am proud to be part of that 2 percent and you should find your place too!

What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Do it. Be the standard. Let your work product speak for itself…no gender attached.

I love science/engineering/technology because…It provided me with the opportunity to take part of projects that will outlast my time here on Earth, including but not limited to inspiring other women to do the same.

%d bloggers like this: