Highlighting Women in Geobiology at MIT: Dr. Emmanuelle Grosjean

Posted on Jul 5, 2019
Dr. Emmanuelle Grosjean (right) with Janet Hope (left), former collaborator of Roger. Photo courtesy Dr. Emmanuelle Grosjean.

Current Role: I work as an organic geochemist for Geoscience Australia (GA), Australia’s governmental geoscientific organisation, based in Canberra. GA can be loosely described as the Australian equivalent of the US Geological Survey. In my day-to-day job, I work in a multi-disciplinary team providing insights into Australia’s energy resource potential.

Years in the Summons Lab: I started my appointment with Roger in July 2002 as his first ever post-doc! I left the Summons lab in June 2005 after 3 years of sheer academic fun.

Favorite Memories: I remember my years at MIT as thrilling because of the incredibly stimulating environment and the open-mindedness and enthusiasm of everyone. So many joyful memories to recount including the victory of the Boston Red Sox breaking the Bambino curse in 2004, but I suppose what really sticks out are my visits to the magical city of Muscat in Oman. I had the privilege to travel there three times to present results to Petroleum Development of Oman, which had been funding the study. I enjoyed interacting with the PDO staff and understanding the practical impact of our geochemical study and how it fitted the geology. I came back from these trips with many rugs in my suitcases!

MIT, Boston and Cambridge were my home for three years and I loved every minute of it. I will be forever grateful to Roger for giving me this fantastic opportunity. And whenever I get to meet Roger, it feels a little bit like coming home.

Research Foci in the Summons Lab: My main project was to study the Precambrian petroleum systems of the South Oman Salt Basin in order to better understand the source of the crude oils. I also got to collaborate and contribute to many different exciting projects, such as investigating lipids in Archaea or studying the Permian-Triassic extinction event.

Advice to Women Pursuing STEM: 

This question resonates particularly with me having a daughter aged 11, who is keen on science. My advice to young women and girls interested in pursuing STEM:

+ Surround yourself with a supportive network, family, friends, teachers, colleagues… I have been lucky to have parents who never doubted I could do well in any field I choose, including STEM. Their unwavering support was invaluable in me pursuing studies in STEM and getting a PhD in organic chemistry.

+ Dare to be ambitious and do not let anyone decide what you can or cannot do. To cite a popular self-motivational quote “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

+ Make sure that you thoroughly enjoy what you do. It is hard to achieve well if you don’t and this is what will sustain your motivation in the long run.

+ Do not let anyone bring you down because of derogatory comments on the way you look, the way you dress or the choices you make as a woman. Unfortunately, most women have to endure this at some point in time during their life and career. I am definitely hopeful things are improving in this regard. I have seen positive change in my own organisation thanks to the championing of our CEO.

Featured Publications:

Grosjean, E., Love, G.D., Kelly, A.E., Taylor, P.N., Summons, R.E., 2012. Geochemical evidence for an Early Cambrian origin of the “Q” oils and some condensates from north Oman. Organic Geochemistry 45, 77-90.

Grosjean, E., Love, G.D., Stalvies, C., Fike, D.A., Summons, R.E., 2009. Origin of petroleum in the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian South Oman Salt Basin. Organic Geochemistry 40, 87-110.