NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Susana Y. Kimura-Hara

Susana Y. Kimura-Hara

YOU can make a difference in the world!

Assistant Professor, Chemistry
University of Calgary

Dr. Susana Y. Kimura-Hara is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary. Prior to joining the faculty, she did her postdoc in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina. She obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and B.Eng. in Industrial Engineering from CETYS Universidad in Mexico. Her research focuses on building water sustainability for todays and future generations in a changing environment with increasing water scarcity. She investigates how compounds found in wastewater-impacted waters are removed or transformed by existing and new treatment technologies to ensure the safe use of reused waters. In her free time, she practices zumba and loves the challenge of a difficult yoga pose!

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

I absolutely enjoy doing research and work on science topics that have a direct impact to public health, for instance drinking water. But my favorite part of my job is working with the students. I want to inspire my students to work in areas that also excite them and mentor them on their journey.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

I first became interested in drinking water treatment because it is essential to human life. With pristine water sources being depleted due to population growth and climate change, alternative source waters are being used including saline and wastewater-impacted waters. My research investigates how compounds found in wastewater-impacted waters are removed or transformed by existing and new treatment technologies to ensure the safe use of reused water.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Water treatment and analytical chemistry are such interdisciplinary fields where students have a broad range of careers to choose from depending on their interests. Students focusing in my field may consider consulting engineering (designing water treatment plants or perform environmental studies), analytical instrumentation industry (companies that sell analytical instruments), analytical laboratories (laboratories specialized in measuring regulated contaminants), and research in government, academia, and industry.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

I think that a workplace environment where there is a strong support and respect from your students, colleagues, and leaders are very important aspects for both women and men to succeed in their academic careers. This is one of the reasons I recently joined my workplace and I enjoy tremendously coming to work every day.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

I hope to facilitate a supportive environment by listening to what my students, colleagues and leaders have to say. I also hope to be supportive to my students through coaching and mentoring, and encourage them to also help each other by having them work together in projects and mentor new students.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

I believe that programs (for high school, undergraduate, and graduate) and scholarships geared towards girls and women can increase their interests towards STEM fields. Also, having women mentors from different type of careers (academia, industry, and government) involved with student groups like WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) and provide insight and encouragement for young women that would like to pursue a career in STEM.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

I strongly encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in science and engineering. There are so many careers in STEM that have a direct impact on society and YOU can make a difference in the world!

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

I have been extremely fortunate to have academic advisors that have mentored me both on my studies and in life as well. I started my graduate studies because I started talking to my teachers and explored options that I didn’t even know were possible. I strongly encourage students to talk to your teachers!