Dr. Tamie Jovanelly is a geologist who loves to travel. After writing an advanced level textbook Iceland: Tectonics, Volcanics, and Glacial Features she realized she was an expert in interpreting the landscape of Iceland and saw the opportunity to create her dream venture. This venture became her tour company, Iceland Geology Tours, which has been leading study abroad trips to the country since 2006. Her tours are designed to be educational but also to allow for participants to be enchanted by the beauty of the country that is supported by fascinating geology.
Jovanelly’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I have been leading study abroad trips for undergraduate students to Iceland since 2006. When my last trip filled within a day, and I had parents inquiring if they could participate, I realized that I had an opportunity. Building on that idea, I wrote an advanced level textbook (Iceland: Tectonics, Volcanics, and Glacial Features) for a major publisher (Wiley, in press) about the geology of Iceland. With the publication of the book on the horizon, I had developed enough confidence to say that I was an expert in interpreting the landscape. I have a deep love for the country and with the launch of Iceland Geology Tours I can now visit and talk about geology all day!
My definition of success is being physically and mentally active. Iceland Geology Tours provides me an outlet to share my passion for all things geological to people who are interested. Plus, the daily itinerary of the tour allows me to be hiking in beautiful landscapes. The tour company is new so simply the development of website, the completion of the textbook, and the interest it has generated thus far is all rewarding. I would like for the tour company to become accredited whereby providing college credit without having to piggy back on other colleges and universities to do so.
My top challenge is promoting the tours and making sure they get filled. A trip can’t run (profitably) without 9 trip participants. So, filling trips with limited tour dates is stressful. Also, I have to collect deposits way ahead of time so that I can secure reservations. That is challenging to communicate to clients.
I had to make a decision if I was going to ‘fit the mold of a scientist’ or not. In geology today still less than 20% of the PhD’s are held by women. I had to make a choice to either be my authentic self who likes lipstick and heels when not in the field, or to succumb to flannel shirts and hiking boots to appease the majority. I have decided that I am more comfortable being myself despite how uncomfortable that can make my colleagues. I don’t yet have a gauge as to how this will positively or negatively affect Iceland Geology Tours, but I’m at peace with myself.
I have been lucky to have had several important female role models in my life. When writing my textbook I often reflected on my Master’s degree advisor who worked intensely and passionately on grant applications. Her work in the geosciences always motivated to be my very best.