Meet Ali Cochrane and Kristin Beck!

Our roundup of introductions to new Aspect staff continues with two recent additions to our Environmental practice area: Senior Staff Geologist Ali Cochrane and Staff Hydrogeologist Kristin Beck. Here are five questions we asked to get to know them better… 

Ali Cochrane

1.    Where are you from? 
I’m a Seattle local! Born and raised on Queen Anne hill. 

2.    What inspired you to pursue geology? 
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Lou Laprade, hosted a guest instructor—a principal geologist from a Seattle consulting firm—who spent several weeks teaching us about geology and earth science. I remember being especially fascinated by the idea of plate tectonics and mountain building. When I had the opportunity, I took entry level geology courses at WWU, which renewed my interest in Geology and I enrolled in the degree program. 

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
Of course, I really like investigating and learning more about how our projects are affected by the earth processes that originally drew me to geology, but I’ve also grown to love the complex problem solving that is a strong component of all of our projects.

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
I get my strongest zen from gardening – I love to work the earth with my hands, learn about effective organic gardening and how best to utilize limited urban space, and try out different food preservation techniques for big harvests. I was recently selected as co-coordinator at the Greenwood P Patch—one of Seattle’s community gardens—where I have the opportunity to connect with experienced urban gardeners in my neighborhood, and help new gardeners learn about a hobby that I love. 

Another thing that I put a lot of time into is learning about Seattle’s local music scene—my husband is a musician and runs a recording studio out of our basement, so we frequently have local musicians in the house, and I can often be found at a small local music venue either listening to one of my husband’s bands or exploring what’s popular. 

Other things that occupy my off-work-life include yoga, hiking, spending time with my mom and siblings (who luckily all live nearby) and my 7-toed cat, Luna!

5.    Where in the world would you like to travel next? 
My husband and I love to travel! We try to set aside money to try a new country each year—this year we’ll be traveling to Tokyo!

Kristin Beck

1.    Where are you from?  
I’m from Sumner, Washington, about an hour outside of Seattle. I went to college in Los Angeles and then lived all over the world, including New York City; Boulder, Colorado; Istanbul, Turkey; and Taipei, Taiwan, before I moved back to Seattle for grad school. I always figured that the weather would keep pushing me away from the Pacific Northwest, but then my brother started having kids and the draw of being the cool, local auntie was too much to resist. Now I hang with the babies to cure my winter doldrums.

2.    What inspired you to pursue geology? What made you curious about it?
My undergraduate degree is in diplomacy and world affairs—a far cry from geology—so my path to this point has not been straight. I had been introduced to geology late in the game and decided not to change my major, but I snuck in classes whenever I could. The last semester of my senior year, I got the high score on a geology midterm and the professor wrote at the top of my test, “You should have been a geologist!” So I went home and had an enormous existential crisis; I knew he was right. What I loved about geology was that it wasn’t purely theoretical—you could look around and see how our lives were being affected either by being ignorant of or by harnessing the world around us. It was clear that you couldn’t talk about geology without also discussing the tangible effects it has on people and communities.

3.    What do you like best about your area of expertise? What excites you and keeps you motivated? 
What I like about hydrogeology is its interdisciplinary nature. It is crucial to understanding other geologic phenomena, from landslides to contaminant transport to volcanic eruptions, but it also has constant intersection with the socio-political world. Groundwater plays an enormous role in our lives in ways we often don’t think about until the supply runs low (or runs dirty). In many global or intrastate conflicts, access to water plays a major role. The wide range of complicated problems you might be asked to solve as a hydrogeologist is why I decided that this is what I want to do.

4.    What do you like to do when you aren’t working? 
Most weekends you can find me tossing my niece and nephew around, practicing my self-defense skills at Krav Maga Seattle, searching for the perfect Reuben sandwich, or doing maintenance around my family’s property on Hood Canal. I’m also working on a “30 Before 30” list, so in the next 1.5 years I’ll be working to complete a set of random tasks, including making homemade lox, gambling $30, summiting Mt. Adams, and developing my own Bloody Mary recipe.

5.    What five people would be your dream dinner party guests? 
My first instinct would be to say Hillary Clinton, Melissa Harris Perry, Angela Merkel, JLo, and Tina Fey, but I’m pretty sure the room would explode with that many awesome women in one place. In the interest of safety, then, I would replace Tina Fey with Jon Stewart and he can serve as moderator.