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Denise Levitan

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My name is Denise Levitan, and I am a senior environmental scientist and geochemist with Baar Engineering in Minneapolis. I've been in the mining industry for about a decade, and I've been an SME member for seven years. I like that I get out of my little bubble in Minneapolis and I get to do all kinds of different things in the mining industry. 

As somebody who works in the environmental field, I don't always get to interact with people who actually are boots on the ground, digging in the mines or mine planning, hardcore geology engineers. I mostly sit by myself and process data in Excel, and so I get really excited to get to see people do all kind of stuff. 

I was an intern at a mining company for a summer and there was a big intern lunch in the end and the person presenting got up and told us that we wanted to have a future in the mining industry, we had to be willing to live in a small remote mining town or we just weren't going to make it. So I would like students to know that is not true. 

There's so many different ways that you can work in and around the mining industry without actually having to set foot in the mine. It's not that it's not fun to visit the mines, which is something that I've got to for SME. You can live in your condo downtown and still spend time working with the mining industry. 

So I get to see a lot of familiar faces, which is really nice. I met a lot of different people here throughout the years, and so it's good to reconnect with them, hear what they're up to you. Your general industry trends. 

Originally, I joined SME by attending a SME Minnesota conference, and then my coworkers asked if I would be willing to do presentation on my graduate research at National SME and I didn't realize I was going to get to meet people from all over the world, all over the country, doing work at different types of mines, support for the mining industry that I never knew existed. There's a lot of people around SME conferences that work in bolts and pumps and all the machinery, stuff that I never really get to think about. So, I like that. 

So I graduated from college and I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I had a college degree and I wanted to be a geologist, but there's a lot of options in in the world of geology, and I didn't really have a focus. And so I wound up with a job working with people who were characterizing mine waste and looking at the environmental impacts of it. And I got to do a lot of mineralogy, which was one of my favorite things as geology major. And so it was about this mindset where a lot of really weird and unique and fun and shiny minerals are. Looking at them is one of the things I like to do. 

I think I've been really lucky and I haven't had any giant hurdles. Sometimes it's just figuring out what to do next. I was told that if I wanted to do more interesting work, I should go to grad school.  So I went and I went for it and I got a Ph.D. And it wasn't easy, but it wasn’t as hard as some of my friends say their experience was. So I was lucky that I got to do that. And then I got a job. 

If you're interested in mining in the mining industry, the SME is a good place to meet a lot of people in mining to see what mining companies are up to, see all the little intricacies of the mining industry and it's a lot of fun.