by Catherine Ortega Klett, NM WRRI Program Manager
Laura J. Crossey joined the faculty at The University of New Mexico in 1986 and became the first woman tenured, the first woman named full professor, and the first female department Chair in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. Her research group explores applications of low-temperature geochemistry to problems in hydrochemistry/water quality, diagenesis, geomicrobiology, and geothermal processes. Her research approach combines field examination of modern environments (water, gas, geomicrobial materials and sediments) with laboratory analysis as well as core and outcrop study to evaluate paleohydrology, spring sustainability, and reservoir/aquifer characteristics.
Professor Crossey received a BA in geology from Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO) and an MS, also in geology, from Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her PhD from the University of Wyoming in deep-basin sedimentary diagenesis.
Dr. Crossey has received many honors, including several for her efforts in promoting women in science and technology. In 2015, she received the Ninth Annual IMPACT! Award from the New Mexico Network for Women in Science in Engineering. She is also a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (since 2010), and is the 2019 Birdsall Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer for the Hydrogeology Division of GSA. She was awarded Lifetime Membership to the New Mexico Geological Society on the basis of her service. She and her husband Karl Karlstrom were awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award by the American Institute of Professional Geologists in 2015 for designing and building the Trail of Time, a geoscience exhibition at the Grand Canyon installed in 2010.
Professor Crossey has supervised 63 graduate students (MS and PhD) and 63 undergraduates. She has had four NM WRRI Student Water Research recipients since the program began 2003. Three of the four students she advised, Dennis Newell, Matthew Kirk, and Amy Williams are all now professors in water-related research-intensive departments. Her most recent advisee, Jon Golla, is headed to a prestigious PhD program at the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana. “The WRRI opportunities are a marvelous preparation for graduate students: from writing the grant to budgeting the resources and completing a report. This is excellent training for a geoscientist, whether heading for academia, industry or other opportunities in the federal or state arena.” says Dr. Crossey.