Catherine Ross

Houston, TX

"I realize now that geology is a very creative science."

I graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in 2012 with a concentration in Dance. I went to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada - so far away from home! I wanted a new experience and found it was actually cheaper to go to college out of the country instead of a private university in the US. After getting my BSc in Earth and Planetary Science in 2016, I did a one-year Master's in geology studying fossilized earthquakes. Now at UT Austin, I am studying the impact crater that killed the dinosaurs and will be getting my PhD in geology in 2021! After becoming Dr. Ross, I hope to become a professor.

My Pathway

I grew up wanting to be a professional dancer. I realized that I loved problem solving and academics, but I was sad to say goodbye to my artistic side. Although I performed better in my humanities classes, I loved the challenge of my science and math classes. My dad is a geologist, and I needed a summer job so he suggested I contact a family friend. She was working in a geology lab and I absolutely loved working with her. I say that she is the real reason I became a geoscientist, not my dad!

I realize now that geology is a very creative science. We only have a brief dataset of Earth’s processes (since humans record), and geoscientists have to think of creative ways to analyze and interpret data to extrapolate billions of years of history. I believe that artistic people can make great geoscientists as they are able to think outside of the box and provide refreshing outlooks.

The surprising thing is...

We are not just “right-” or “left-brained”, but I do believe that every approach to solving a problem is valid. Geology can enrich art as much as art can enrich geology. Out-of-the-box thinkers can help solve some of the trickiest problems in geology. I don’t think that all good ideas come from like-minded people; they come from a diverse group of people with various backgrounds and skill sets all collaborating and respecting each other’s input. I want to quash the stigma that you have to choose between social science, STEM, and art.


Just take one geology class. Without the delicate evolution of the planet, Earth would not be habitable so there would be no cute kitten videos, nor medicine, politics, or art. Even a basic appreciation of geology can enrich your life. You might even get hooked like I did... Even your background in art (like mine) can help equip your for a career in STEM.

Contact Me!

Reach out to learn more about the geosciences, about how to become a geoscientist, or to talk about your own story.