Recently retired Director, AdvanceVT program, Virginia Tech

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Follow your curiosity to find ways to make a difference and make the world better.

Peggy Layne

What do you do?

I started my career as an environmental engineer, working on water and wastewater treatment for industries and municipalities and later on hazardous waste cleanup projects. I conducted studies and led teams of scientists and engineers to collect and analyze samples of air, water, and soil to determine what kind of cleanup would be needed to make the sites safe. I made a career change into university administration where I led a program to recruit, retain, and advance women faculty in science and engineering.

Why did you choose this field?

I was very interested in environmental protection when I was growing up and I wanted a career that would help to clean up pollution. I went to a nature study summer camp where we learned about environmental sciences and the importance of clean water, air, and soil. I majored in environmental and water resources engineering in college and worked for several consulting firms early in my career.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

The field of environmental engineering has grown and changed a lot over the course of my career. While I was working as an environmental engineer, I become involved as a volunteer with the Society of Women Engineers developing a network to support and promote women in engineering. Later in my career I was able to get a job working full time as an advocate for women in science and engineering.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I like to solve problems and find ways to do things better, whether that is cleaning up the environment or advancing the careers of women in science and engineering.

Best advice for next generation?

Follow your curiosity to find ways to make a difference and make the world better.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Well behaved women seldom make history.”

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