Chanel’s Journey From the Arts to Geophysics

Geophysics has historically been a male-dominated industry, but there is an increasing presence of women in the field. Chanel De Pledge who graduated from Santa Maria College in 2009 pursued various degrees before she settled on Geophysics. With six years of technical experience in the oil and gas industry, Chanel graciously shared her journey with us.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I finished high school,” Chanel admits. “But eventually, the possibility of working outside, solving complex problems, and delving into the sciences drew me towards geophysics.”

Chanel’s academic journey was a winding road, peppered with changes in degrees and moments of self-discovery. When asked if she always planned to be a geophysicist Chanel explains “Not straight out of high school, but the career path was always in the back of my mind as I have two relatives who are geophysicists.” Despite her initial love for the arts, encounters with women in engineering and science-based careers during a student exchange in France ignited a new passion within her.

After years of exploration, Chanel completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geophysics, with first-class Honours from Curtin University. Her transition from arts to science was not without its challenges, but Chanel’s determination and curiosity paved the way for her success.

A typical day in Chanel’s job as a geophysicist is far from mundane. “Geophysicists can wear many hats,” she shares. From survey planning and data interpretation to presenting technical work and gaining environmental approvals, Chanel’s role is as diverse as it is dynamic.

While her current position is office-based, Chanel cherishes the opportunities for travel that her previous roles have afforded her. “The best way we can visualise and understand the subsurface is to immerse ourselves in the geological wonders around us,” she explains. Field trips to places like Moreton Bay and Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland and Kalbarri have enriched her understanding of the Earth’s intricacies.

Reflecting on her school days, Chanel fondly remembers her love for Drama. “Drama helped me build presentation and public speaking skills which I often lean on at work today,” she says. Teachers like Amanda Huxtable and Elissa Snowden played a pivotal role in nurturing her passion and pushing her beyond her comfort zone.

For students considering a career in geophysics, Chanel offers sage advice: “Go for it!” She emphasises the importance of excelling in high-level maths, physics, and geology. She encourages aspiring geophysicists to seek work experience or internships to gain firsthand field knowledge.

In her downtime, Chanel enjoys Pilates, kitesurfing with her husband, scuba diving and taking her dog, Cheeto for walks. Chanel adds, “When this comes out, I’ll likely be on my honeymoon kitesurfing and diving with my husband in Zanzibar!”

Chanel’s journey from the arts to geophysics is a testament to the changing landscape of the industry and the increasing presence of women in traditionally male-dominated fields. Her story of self-discovery, academic perseverance, and professional success serves as an inspiration to aspiring geophysicists, particularly women, who may be considering a similar path.

Thank you for sharing your story, Chanel, and we hope you are having a wonderful honeymoon!

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