EPA is celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is held on Sunday 11 February, and sharing profiles of some of our super science staff. 


Dr Molly Hoak

Dr Molly Hoak is a Scientist in EPA’s Water Sciences Unit. Her focus is providing advice on surface water issues. She also works on research and development projects and contributes to EPA advice. 

Spending lots of time outside while growing up inspired her love of the environment.

I’ve always been interested in the environment and ecology since I was tiny. I would go hiking and camping with my parents,”’ Molly said.

Molly studied International Relations and Arabic before graduating with a bachelor's degree in science education. Her time with EPA started as an internship in the Water Sciences team. 

“I started with EPA after I finished my PhD. I left for a bit to work in environmental consulting and then came back when the right job came up,” she said.

“I was able to take time off when my son was born and again when he was a bit older. I didn’t have to worry being a mother would impact my career. That is invaluable when you are starting out.”

Molly was involved in developing EPA’s Emerging Contaminants Program, looking at ambient concentrations of emerging and legacy contaminants in our environment. She also worked on a water sensor project in Heidelberg West with Banyule City Council.

The project saw real-time water sensors used in the creek and drains in a nearby industrial precinct. Having immediate data meant officers could conduct rapid inspections to minimise harm to the local waterways.

“This was such an exciting project because it allowed us to really test out new remote water sensing technologies and how we might use them in the future. It was great to see the science in action,” she said.

“The work helped us avoid further impacts to Darebin Creek. It’s a real win for the environment and I was very proud to be part of it.”

Molly believes it’s important to diversify perspectives in scientific fields.

“Science explains how the world works. It’s crucial that the voices contributing are as diverse as possible. Otherwise, you could be missing out on information you wouldn’t even know to think about!” she said.

Molly encourages anyone looking to get involved in environmental science to give it a go and explore a variety of experiences. 

“Environmental science is such a varied and multidisciplinary field that you’re bound to find something you like,” she said. 

I’d also encourage any students today to pursue a wide variety of experiences. It’s easy to think you’ve decided on one path that you’ll do forever. Careers are more like twisty mazes than straight railroad tracks. Maintain your curiosity and you’ll really enjoy your time in science!”

Reviewed 5 February 2024