Suburban Testing Labs’ Project Manager, Alana Kopicz has recently tested and earned her Professional Geologist License.
Following 6 months of massive effort and preparation, Ms. Kopicz took the 4 hour P.G. license exam in September 2016 and 60 days later, learned she passed the exam to become a Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Geologist.
The Team at Suburban Testing Labs would like to congratulate Alana on this amazing effort!
We took the time to sit and chat with Alana to learn more about her studies, her career, and her life. See some of the Q&A below to get to know Alana.
Q: Where did you go to school? What was your field of study?
A: I did my original undergrad in Environmental Resource Management at Penn State University right after high school. I worked in the private sector of environmental consulting for the next 15 years, and eventually hit a plateau without having my P.G. license. Since I needed 30 geology credits to sit for the exam, after meeting with the faculty at Kutztown University, I decided to enroll full-time and complete 45 credits for the full degree. Either way, I needed three semesters to get everything in – so I just bit the bullet and got it done. As nervous as I was about being a returning student, it turned out to be a wonderful experience!
Q: What attracted you to the environmental industry?
A: I always had a passion for nature/outdoors, protecting the environment, and a love of science. Since I had no plans to attend grad school, and a bachelor’s in biology seemed very limiting, I chose to pursue the Environmental Resource Management degree and follow the environmental consulting path. It was not quite what I expected, and had I known better I would have fit in more geology credits the first time around, but it turned out to be an interesting career and put me in contact with some great people along the way.
Q: What was one of the most interesting environmental projects you have worked on?
A: Hands down, historical chlorinated solvent sites take the cake. The combination of chemical and physical properties that create unique preferential flow paths requires the use of all kinds of site characterization tools. In-depth geophysics, MIP, and 3-D modeling are not used much on routine sites. Throw in innovative remediation technologies required to cleanup persistent chemicals that like to rebound, coupled with vapor intrusions risks, and it really doesn’t get any more challenging!
Q: Why did you make a decision to step away from Geology and into an Environmental Laboratory?
A: Over the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience many different types of sites and regulatory issues. I’ve worked in multiple states, done water supply, compliance work, underground storage tanks, large industrial sites, pipelines, tank farms – I was looking for a new venture. After completing my geology degree, I realized how much I still enjoyed learning. While I still pursued my P.G., I was also considering other important factors – company culture, time spent commuting, staying close to home vs. frequent traveling.
I was forwarded an interesting job description in a field I had not considered, and it sounded like a unique fit with my skills and experience. I was intrigued enough to apply and interview, and the more I learned the more I thought, this could be a great opportunity to continue to learn and see things from another perspective! I worked extensively with multiple laboratories during my career to get my clients what they needed, so I was already somewhat familiar with the industry.
Q: How do you feel that your experience in a consulting firm can assist you in your role as an Environmental Project Manager?
A: It really is a perfect fit. I can speak “consultant” and easily spot potential issues or offer recommendations based on my in-the-field experience. I understand the pressure my clients are under, I’m accustomed to the types of requests I receive, and I’ve pretty much already handled everything from “soup to nuts” (field work to budget management to client and regulatory agency interaction) – it’s really not as different as one might expect. Except that I’m working in a nice warm office in January/February!
Q: Tell us something personal about yourself.
A: In my free time, I enjoy gardening/working in my yard or walking my two Pomeranians in the park. Anything outdoors really – although now it’s on my terms!
We are happy to have you on the team, Alana! Congratulations on your achievement!