Making a difference seems to be a part of Elizabeth Steeves’ DNA. Originally from Trumbull, Steeves earned her undergraduate degree from Fairfield University where she double majored in Biology and Chemistry. She considered going into the field of medicine, but Chemistry was pulling her in another direction.
She worked as a chemist at Uniroyal Chemical where her experience in testing chicken eggs for traces of pesticides led her to a lifelong pursuit of organic gardening. In grad school, her awareness of impacts on our environment grew stronger, conducting her Master’s research on pollutants in the Quinnipiac River. That research shed light on one polyurethane manufacturer that was dumping waste into the river and caught the attention of area newspapers and regulators.
When a full-time teaching position opened up at HCC almost 20 years ago, she took the job working with her mentor, Professor Richard Parent. Over the years, the science program has grown and so have the offerings of the department. She became Chair of the Math/Science department and worked to build the engineering program so that students can transfer all over the state.
Steeves developed the Pathway to Teaching Careers Program, an initiative to combat the shortage of teachers in math and science. She also participates in statewide committees, including chairing the committee that developed the Degree Transfer Ticket Program.
“For eleven years I’ve been going around the state, working on committees and I’m convinced that Housatonic is the best place to work and go to school. It’s a positive place, I love the diversity of students, we have support of the administration, and we’re fiscally responsible,” said Steeves.
The Advanced Manufacturing program falls under her purview, and Steeves is a strong proponent. A cohort for women will soon be starting, beginning with two three-week ‘bootcamps’ that will be held in January and March.
Almost concurrently with her work at HCC, Steeves and her husband started a church. The couple revived the Huntington Chapel, an independent church in Shelton, CT, where in addition to providing a place of worship, a volunteer-run residential summer camp offers respite for foster children. https://www.thehuntingtonchapel.com/
Almost as an afterthought, Steves mentions that she has a small farm. Llamas, donkeys, sheep, chickens and turkeys all have called her family farm home. There, Steeves puts her knowledge of chemistry to work in a different way, planting and gardening without chemicals so she may have the least harmful impact on our environment.