Shannon Seneca

Women in STEM
Shannon Seneca

Specialty: Geochemistry

Major Contributions:

First female Native American to earn a PhD in Engineering at University of Buffalo

2011 Outstanding Groundwater Remediation Project of the year

President, Seneca Research, Remediation, and Restoration

Image Courtesy of University of Buffalo

Talking her way onto the grounds of the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility in Colorado sparked a desire to work with nuclear waste and led Shannon Seneca to become the first Native American woman to earn a doctorate in engineering at the University of Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. 

Seneca is Mohawk and part of the Six Nations community near Brantford, Canada where, as she explained, she learned the Great Law of Haudenosaunee that basically states that people should consider how their decisions will affect future generations. Attending Buffalo State College, she earned her BS in physics in 2001 and her MS in environmental engineering at the University of Buffalo in 2006, where she was awarded her Ph.D. in 2012. While at Buffalo she helped to found a local chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and worked with the public school’s Native American Magnet Schools.

Her doctoral research focused on ways to remove radioactive waste from West Valley, located about 30 miles south of Buffalo. She helped to develop a permeable wall that when placed underground would filter and remove strontium-90 from the soil.  The National Groundwater Association awarded this work as the 2011 Outstanding Groundwater Remediation Project of the year.

Working as the Director of Environmental Health as part of the Seneca Nation she led a unit whose responsibilities include maintaining the health and welfare of the Seneca people in relation to their environment, both natural and man-made, and to prevent environmentally related diseases among the Seneca people through the development and implementation of a comprehensive environmental health program.

Since September 2014 she has been president and an environmental engineer at Seneca Research, Remediation, and Restoration, a firm that provides environmental services to tribal and federal governments as well as private industry.

In August of 2023 she joined the faculty in the Indigenous Studies Department of the University of Buffalo where she strives to be part of many interdisciplinary teams to help solve large scale problems including the impact of environmental contaminants on human health. She is also part of the newly formed Indigenous Health Coalition that focuses on improving health and well-being within Native communities. 

Written by Angela Goad


First Female Native American Earns PhD in Engineering at UB

LinkedIn: Shannon Seneca, PhD

University of Buffalo: Shannon Seneca

Indigenous Health Coalition

See Also:

Six Nations Council

Seneca Nation of Indians