Tara Landy

FSEM Beauty and Brains

My name is Tara Landy and I am a freshmen at the University of Mary Washington. My freshmen seminar is called “Beauty and Brains”-Women in the Science Field. Throughout the semester, our class has been researching different female scientists, comparing our female scientists to their contemporary male scientists, and organizations relating to the advancememt of women in the science field. My scientist is Adriana Ocampo, a planetary geologist. This blog is dedicated to the hard work and commitment of women scientists around the world!


Adriana Ocampo grew up in Buenos Ares, Argentina dreaming about exploring planets. She never doubted that all her dreams would come true someday. How did Adriana land a job with NASA while still in her teens? How did a robot parked on Mars make her fall in love with rocks and instantly decide to become a planetary geologist? Adriana’s imagination and pure drive have led her to a life of science adventures. Adriana helped find the missing Crater of Doom, a hole blasted out of Earth by a killer space rock 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs died out. Now she is searching the world for the stuff that came from that crater. Between rock digs she explores other planets through NASA’s space exploration.

Major Recognitions/ Awards

Woman of the Year Award in Science, Comision Femenil, Los Angeles, 1992; Advisory Council for Women Award, JPL, 1996; Science and Technology Award, Chicano Federation, 1997; CSUN’s Distinguished Alumni Award, 2008.

Adriana Ocampo sparked my interest because I felt that we shared the same loves in the science field. As a young girl, I loved collecting rocks and studying the detailed divots and shiny sparkles on every rock that I discovered. While other girls were playing with dolls, I was stuffing my shorts pockets with dozens of rocks. I am also captivated by the stunning stars on a clear night and always take the time to notice the universe’s wonders. Adriana’s passion for geology and positive attitude demonstrate what it takes to become a remarkable female scientist.  

I consider Adriana Ocampo a remarkable role model for an aspiring future scientist because she believes that any young person, from any country or background can reach for the stars. She followed her dreams and stopped at nothing to achieve them. With effort, time, and persistance, one can do anything; it doesn’t matter if you are a girl.

 See Adriana in action as she digs up some answers about our planet’s past: http://www.iwaswondering.org/adriana_video.html


Comparison of Scientists (Adriana Ocampo and Walter Alvarez)





  • Jan. 5, 1955 in Columbia.
  • Grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Married Kevin O. Pope, now divorced

Education and Training

  • Worked since high school for NASA.
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    • Viking Space Mission
    • Hermes Mission
  • Studied Aerospace Engineering at Pasadena City College
  • Geology California State University in Los Angeles (bachelors degree)

Major Accomplishments

  • Involved in NASA mission to
    • Jupiter
    • Project Galileo
    • Mars Observer
  • Crater of Doom

Annual Salary

  • Approximately $156,000




  • Born October 3, 1940 in Berkeley, California
  • Son of Luis W. Alvarez, famous Nobel Prize winning physicist
  • Married to Millie, no children.

Scientific Expertise

  • Earth and Planetary Science


  • B.A. in geology in 1962 from Carleton College in Minnesota
  • Ph.D. in geology from Princeton University in 1967

Professional Positions

  • American Overseas Petroleum Limited in Holland and in Libya
  • Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University
  • 1994 to 1997 Alvarez was Chairman of the Department of Geology and Geophysics
  • Professor in the Earth and Planetary Science department at the University of California, Berkeley


  • Tectonic Paleomagnetism
  • Impact Theory

 Crater of Doom!

  • Roman geology and archeology
  • Big History at UC Berkeley in 2006

Annual Salary

  • Approximately $115,000

I selected Walter Alvarez to compare to Adriana Ocampo because they are both planetary geologists. They also wrote a book together called “T-Rex and the Crater of Doom.” The book inclides their theory about how the dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago! They believe that a giant asteroid hit the earth and caused the dinosaurs mass extinction. They came up with the theory after discovering the “Crater of Doom” in Mexico. Walter and Adriana love being  geologists and encourage students to learn about our universe’s history.

I do not believe that gender influenced the careers of Adriana and Walter. Their salaries, promotions, and awards given were very similar and both were successful in their research. In fact, the women to men ratio in Geology is on the rise! In 2006, only 30% of Geologists were women. Now, statistsics show that 40% of Geologists are women. I have confidence that women are equally treated in the field of Geology.


American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)

When was this organization formed?

  • The organization was founded by Dr. Bertha VanHoosen in 1915 in Chicago, at a time when women physicians were an under-represented minority.

How large is this organization?

  • 3000 members, as of 2007

Is this organization still in existence?

  • Yes!

What is its primary mission?

  • The American Medical Women’s Association is an organization which functions at the local, national, and international level to advance women in medicine and improve women’s health.  AMWA achieves this by providing and developing leadership, advocacy, education, expertise, mentoring, and through building strategic alliances.

Would Adriana Ocampo likely belong to this organization?

  • Most likely, Adriana Ocampo would not be a member of AMWA because her career is not in medicine. However, Adriana would almost certainly encourage the advancement of women in the medical field. She was raised to believe “you could do anything you wanted with time, effort, and persistence. It didn’t matter if you were a girl.”


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