Valerie Were, Ph.D., is the Social Science Lead at NOAA Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies at The City College of New York.
Valerie grew up in Kenya and Ethiopia, and moved to New York for work and the opportunity to live in the city. In contrast to her hometown, Valerie views New York City as, “much more congested” and filled with many more people.
What’s your favorite thing about being a scientist? Did you always want to be a scientist?
“I have always loved solving puzzles and science and the questions scientists ask are, to me, about solving a puzzle. My favorite thing is that I get to work at the intersection of people and the environment. We are great at measuring changes in the environment and need to keep doing so. However, we also need scientists to work on understanding the choices people make that affect the environment.”
Can you think of a specific time when you found science or pursuing science challenging?
“Graduate school can be difficult at times so it takes some perseverance to power through.”
If you could give one piece of advice to young scientists or students, what would it be?
“There’s a lot to be learned from a failed experiment so don’t give up.”
If you hadn’t pursued science, what would you have done instead?
“I would have been a Reference Librarian because I would get to learn new things all the time and help people along the way.”
What is the funniest/strangest thing you have seen in NYC?
“Clothing choices in New York are a constant source of entertainment.”
If you were a lab animal/model organism, which would you be and why?
“Probably a yeast because they are key to understanding some pretty fundamental things about life like how cells copy DNA.”
If the building was burning, what single item would you grab as you ran out the door and why?
“My passport because at least I could travel somewhere to forget the mess for a little bit.”