Monica Norton Mouallem graduated from Rutgers University in May 2019 with a Masters in Science degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Her research focused on hydrogeology under the supervision of her advisor, Dr. Gail Ashley, and committee members, Dr. Ying Fan Reinfelder, and Dr. Christopher Lepre. Her thesis focused on better understanding modern and ancient hydrogeologic features, namely springs and wetlands. Her research involved two separate, but connected, parts: developing a hydrogeologic framework for a modern spring system located in the Ngorongoro Volcanic Highlands of Tanzania, Africa (small scale) and examining geologic records from around the world to develop a novel, global wetlands facies model (large scale). “Springs and wetlands are both visible at the surface and provide numerous benefits to society, yet I found they are poorly understood as the processes behind them are not visible and occur below the surface,” stated Monica when asked about her research. She was worked as a Fellow on the Rutgers Science Explorer Bus, where she worked with other STEM graduate students to teach science and mathematics topics to middle schoolers around New Jersey. Monica also completed the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) Graduate Certificate program were she worked with Rutgers scientists and policy experts to learn how to build more sustainable coastlines. Both of these programs were wonderful learning experiences in Monica’s Rutgers career and she credits them for helping her develop as a well-rounded scientist.
After graduation, Monica entered the environmental consulting field and has over 5 years of experience in the industry. She recently joined the team at SESI Consulting Engineers in July 2021. In this role, she provides technical advice to their clients in the commercial, industrial, and real estate sectors to help them solve their most challenging environmental problems. Her experience has included conducting environmental assessments and investigations at sites in New Jersey and New York to evaluate and understand the nature and extent of soil, groundwater, and soil vapor contamination at the site-specific scale. Monica has helped to develop remediation strategies to mitigate contamination at sites in accordance with state and federal policies to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. She is excited to work for a company that provides “one-stop-shop” engineering services to meet their client needs.
Favorite Rutgers Memory
Monica’s favorite memory from her Rutgers experience occurred while traveling with Dr. Gail Ashley in Tanzania. They spent a lot of time around springs and wetlands in the area, and where they found water, they also found people and animals. As they were walking around a particular wetland one day, they began to notice that three Maasai folks were following behind them, giggling. After some time, she turned around and introduced herself, shook their hands, and told them she was studying the chemchem (springs). The three of them continued to giggle and the woman in the middle began to fidget with something around her neck. Finally, she freed one of the beaded necklaces from herself, clasped it around her neck, gave Monica a hug, and held her hand. This amazing gift and speechless gesture made a profound impression on her, and she will never forget it.