Texas Tech University

Research Spotlight on Women Faculty: Moira Ridley & Dana Weiser

March 2, 2020 |  

During March, Texas Tech is celebrating women faculty who exemplify excellence in research, scholarship, creative activity, teaching, and mentoring.

Moira Ridley
Professor, Department of Geosciences

Moira RidleyRidley's research is focused on understanding the complex, environmentally relevant interactions that occur between water and mineral-surfaces. She is particularly interested in gaining insights into molecular-scale reaction mechanisms that underlie observable, macroscopic phenomena.

What inspired you to work in your field/area of expertise?

From an early age, I had an intrinsic interest in math and science, especially relating to the environment. Thus, pursuing an undergraduate degree in geology was an inherent progression. Science allowed me to explore the how and why of environmental phenomena. As my knowledge matured, exploring the how and why matured into questions of what mechanisms at the molecular scale are responsible for macroscale phenomena.

Of all environmental substances, water is extraordinary—besides being essential to life, and so society. Furthermore, water interacting with mineral surfaces is Earth's most abundant interface. Thus, what could be more intriguing than exploring the interactions between water and mineral surfaces? Studying mineral–water interfaces provides an opportunity to explore environmental and scientific questions at a fundamental level, and obtain results that contribute knowledge and insights needed to understand pressing water issues.

Who inspired you to pursue academia?

At various points during my college training, undergraduate through Ph.D. degrees, I worked in both industry and academic settings. The freedom that academics allowed to pursue basic science and explore interesting scientific questions was appealing. Added in was a good measure of rebelliousness, to go against the many comments made, starting in high school continuing through post-doctoral research, that science and the geosciences were poor career options for women to pursue.

What would you tell your female students interested in pursuing an academic career?

Academia is challenging, even frustrating at times. Yet I cannot imagine any more satisfying career choice that allows such freedom and self-determination.


Dana Weiser
Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Dana WeiserWeiser's program of research mainly focuses on how family experiences shape young adults' later relationship experiences and sexual behaviors, including sexual risk taking. Much of her work has looked at how the experience of parental infidelity is associated with young adults' own likelihood of engaging in infidelity.

What inspired you to work in your field/area of expertise?

I became interested in how families shape our romantic relationships and sexual beliefs as I realized the central force families have in individuals' lives. As I developed my program of research and honed my feminist sensibilities, it became more important to me to incorporate praxis into my work. Currently my work examines how and what parents communicate about consent and sexual violence with the hope of developing educational programming geared to parents to facilitate more effective conversations.

Who inspired you to pursue academia?

Dan Weigel, my doctoral advisor. He is the best mentor a student could ever ask for. He always pushed me and supported me. He has taught me to be the type of mentor, person, and scholar I strive to be.

What would you tell your female students interested in pursuing an academic career?

To speak up for yourself and pay attention to whether you are hedging or downplaying your accomplishments and talents. You always have to be your biggest advocate and make sure you also advocate for and support other women!


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