DHEC Celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 11 marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight three women at DHEC who play critical roles in science. Whether it is overseeing dams and reducing the impact to water quality from stormwater runoff, conducting onsite surveys of long-term care facilities, or overseeing newborn screenings, these women help us work towards our vision of “healthy people living in healthy communities.”

They also show the DHEC core value of Advancing Equity, the strategic pathway of Science in Action and the agency goals of Protect the Environment and Promote Healthy Outcomes.

Jill Stewart

Jill Stewart, P.E., is the Director of the Dam Safety and Stormwater Permitting Division. She and her team oversee dams across the state and work with developers, industry and local communities to reduce impacts to water quality from stormwater runoff.

“We use our knowledge in a multitude of tasks from reviewing engineering drawings to educating citizens about how their actions have an impact on the world around them,” Jill said. “While we may use terms like hydrology, sedimentology, pollutant transport, etc. in our lingo, each of these are in essence expansions of the chemistry, biology and earth science.”

Her undergraduate degree is in civil engineering, and as an engineer, she takes scientific principles and puts them into practical use for humans and the environment.

“In making a career at DHEC as an engineer, I’ve found a way to use a field I love to make the state I love a better place to live!” Jill said.

Paola Estrada

Paola Estrada is a Field Surveyor in the Bureau of Community Care. She conducts onsite surveys of long-term care facilities to holistically assess the resident and the care that they are receiving.

“I use science every day in my current position from formulas that we use to understanding medications,” Paoloa said. “Overall, science is a derivative of health care.”

She is a certified clinical medical assistant and a certified lab technician. Before joining DHEC in June 2022, she helped run a lab for a family practice.

“What I like about working at DHEC is knowing I’m a part of making a difference for the residents and being their voice,” Paola said. “I like science because it gives me a deeper understanding of processes we take for granted and always finding ways to do things better.”

Sandi Hall

Sandi Hall, BS, MT(ASCP), is the Newborn Screening Supervisor for the Public Health Laboratory (PHL). She plays a critical leadership role supervising a team of two testing supervisors and thirteen lab technicians.

“I chose laboratory science as my career because I enjoyed science and had an interest in health care,” she said. “As an introvert, laboratory science provided me with a profession where I can help people indirectly and in a behind-the-scenes role.”

This lab screens approximately 55,000 newborns every year for 54 conditions and is essential to provide lifesaving screening for babies born in South Carolina. The primary goal of newborn screening is to identify babies at risk of having a condition so they can get the treatment they need as quickly as possible. If these conditions are found early and treated, a baby has a greater chance of living a normal life.

Sandi’s favorite part of working at DHEC is knowing that she is making a difference for newborns and their families. She enjoys working at the PHL and thrives knowing that she is serving the citizens of South Carolina.

Her favorite quote is by Jane Goodall, who is also a woman of science: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

If you are seeking a career in science that makes a difference, consider applying for a position with DHEC. For current job openings, click here.

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