“Get to know us better” – Julia Loffler
Next up in our ‘Get to know us better’ series is Julia Loffler. Julia has been a member of the YEG committee since its inception at the San Francisco congress, and is our dedicated secretary. Julia is a Geological Lead for Stantec in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has had varied experiences working across South America. In her interview Julia shares her experiences as a female working for a large consultancy, and what sparked her interest in Engineering Geology.
How and why did you get interested in engineering geology?
I like the idea of using geologic knowledge on applied fields and find the interaction with other disciplines fulfilling. It is gratifying to see how geology, and our interpretations, can help locate civil works and inform foundation design and treatments.
Where and when did you obtain your undergraduate degree and, if appropriate, your graduate degree(s)?
I obtained my graduate degree in Argentina, in La Plata National University (UNLP).
Who have/has been your most inspiriting mentor/supervisor (men and women)?
My most inspiring mentor is Martin Guichon who was my “Geology Applied to Engineering” professor. He hired me to help him and to be his successor in the company he was working for, MWH (now Stantec). He taught me not only about Geology Applied to Engineering but also how to deal with everyday issues at work and how to interact with people from different disciplines. In Argentina there are not many Geologist working in this field, and he is a referent to all of us.
On the last few years, I´ve found another mentor, Carry Randalph Loar who works in the Denver Stantec office. She is super easygoing and helps me a lot now that Martin has retired. I would like to take a moment to remember Martin Guichon, who passed away on September the 26th. In Argentina there are not many Geologist working in this field, and he will always be a role model to all of us and particularly to me, he has been my friend and family for the past 10 years.
If you did a thesis, what was your thesis topic?
I have not done a thesis yet.
Were there any/many other women in your university classes?
Yes, in fact in some classes there were more women than men. My professors used to say that during the years I studied there had been an increase in women enrollments.
With what companies/organizations did you (have you) worked?
I have worked for Stantec, formerly MWH (from the junction of three companies Montgomery, Watson and Harza) since I got my degree. I have also been teaching at my University for around 10 years now, I started as a teacher assistant in Structural Geology and four years ago I started in Geology Applied to Engineering.
What are your main areas of interest within engineering geology?
I enjoy working in civil works and have always been into geologic risk. I´ve always wanted to work in practical things and interacting with other disciplines, I enjoy making geology accessible to others.
What were (have been) the most memorable projects you’ve been involved with?
Asana: It was a Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) Dam for the diversion of a river that flowed through a copper mineralized area in Quellaveco – Peru. I did the mapping for the foundation and was there for the entire construction helping as resident geologist for the designer.
Represas Patagonia: In which I am working today. The project consists of two Concrete Face Gravel fill Dam of around 2Km long, on Santa Cruz river in Southern Argentina with hydropower means.
Have you been in IAEG or your local young group?
Around 5 years ago I was invited to form a young national group within our National Symposium. Alejandro (another young professional), and I did some activities in the symposium and created a young national group. Since last year our national group has been led by two companions that have been involved since the beginning (Myrian and Cristian).
Regarding IAEG, I met with the rest of the YEGs at the San Francisco Congress and have been a part of the Committee since then, which has continued to grow with the participation of YEGs from all around the world.
Have you won any awards (honours) for your technical achievements or your contributions to your profession? If so, what were they? Any other notable achievements?
Since I´ve always worked in the company, my major recognition was that last year I’ve been designed as Geological Lead for our office. It is also an honor to be vice-president of our national group and member of our YEG Committee.
What is it like being a woman in a man-dominated profession?
I´ve always had more friends that were men, so I have always been comfortable around them. However, while doing field work, I am usually at work camps and I´ve had some awkward moments luckily not with the people I had to work with.
Although sometimes men get a misleading first impression and they are surprised by the fact that I am capable of doing my job. I think that nowadays we are more and more equal. Overall, I have been lucky with the colleagues that I have had and am really happy to work with them.
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