Water rules

Name: Lindsay Birt
Major: Agricultural and biological engineering
Year: Ph.D. candidate
Hometown: Houston, Texas

A watershed moment: Lindsay began her college career in chemical engineering, but she soon switched to agricultural and biological engineering, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in that subject. She found Purdue during her search for a Ph.D. program that combined engineering, management and policy in the study of watershed management and environmental engineering.

Learning by doing: Lindsay became interested in science thanks to a high school science program that taught her the fundamentals of science through hands-on projects. She also had another influence. “I was inspired to pursue environmental research and policy making by Bernard Amadei, the founder of Engineers Without Borders. His organization is leading innovations to address social and science policy issues and provide solutions to the world’s water problems.”

Already making an impact: Working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has given Lindsay an understanding of the need to coordinate agency efforts. A watershed management manual developed by her team has helped define how the state measures the success of its programs.

Taking it national: Lindsay has gained further experience in influencing water-quality policy through her selection as a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow by the National Academies in Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Academies’ Water Science & Technology Board. This board engages its fellows in the analytical process that informs U.S. science and technology policy.

“Working as a fellow was an eye-opener. I saw firsthand the challenge of getting different groups in industry to talk with each other. Finding ways to improve data sharing was a key issue we considered during my time in D.C.”

Reward for excellence: Lindsay has received a Purdue doctoral fellowship in addition to the Myron A. Pugacz Fellowship and the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Fellowship. She also is a member of Purdue’s Alliance for Graduate Education (AGEP) and received the organization’s Professoriate Scholarship. Lindsay was recently selected as Purdue’s Global Policy Research Institute’s (GPRI) graduate summer intern, where she will be contributing a white paper on the GPRI summit and cultivating strategies to engage students in science policy.

It all started at home: “My mother is my greatest inspiration. She is a living example of a strong woman who instilled the value of a strong work ethic and gave me the passion to dream big.”

By Anthony Wood