Meet Dr. Nikita La Cruz, senior geologist

"My name is Nikita La Cruz and though I am from a tiny mining village in rural Guyana, I did not know that the field of geology, which is integral to mining, existed. Nearing the end of high school, I was unsure of the career path that I wanted to pursue, but I knew that I loved science (particularly chemistry) and wanted to be a scientist. I started undergrad at Gettysburg College (@gettysburgcollege) in August 2009 and declared as a chemistry major. The following semester, I declared a second major: environmental studies, and during my first class (Intro to Earth Systems Science), I knew that I wanted to be a geologist. Specifically, I wanted to be an economic geologist because I wanted to learn about ore deposits and mining so that I could bring this knowledge back to my home country and work to improve the mining industry there. After finishing my bachelor’s degrees in May 2013, I moved to the University of South Florida (@usouthflorida) to pursue a master’s degree in geology. For my master’s thesis, I synthesized a mineral found in iron meteorites that is hypothesized to be a source of reactive phosphorus that was important for the evolution of life on the early earth. In September 2015, I started my PhD in economic geology at the University of Michigan (@michiganearth). For my dissertation, I studied the chemistry of minerals as a tool for finding new ore deposits and as a way to understand how ore deposits form. While my PhD journey was sometimes tough, I had access to lots of awesome opportunities and resources (e.g., multiple field trips, two internships, lots of networking and outreach, and wellness coaching) that were instrumental in preparing me for the next phase of my life.

I completed my PhD in September 2019 and moved back home to be closer to my family, and to pursue the goal that I set for myself when I decided that I wanted to be a geologist. I am extremely happy that my job allows me to spend time in the field (jungles and savannahs) and lab working to understand the geology and ore deposit potential of Guyana. Additionally, I am very grateful that I have an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with the current members of the local mining industry, while also being able to mentor the next generation of Guyanese geoscientists."

- Nikita La Cruz (she/her)

Instagram: @dr_nlecongeo

Twitter: @nlecongeo

LinkedIn: Dr. Nikita La Cruz