Quick facts about me:Born in: Pleasanton, CA
Raised in: Lake Oswego, OR
Undergraduate education: Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. Biology BS
Graduate education: University of California, Santa Cruz, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (current). Labs: Palkovacs, Raimondi/Carr
Interests: Marine ecology, evolution, conservation
Favorite words: poikilotherm, dicotyledon, mitochondrion
Career goals: To perform professional marine research to help guide coastal and marine management. I'm considering studying marine policy after my PhD, but I am waiting to see how my interests change during the course of my graduate degree.
Heading to the intertidal zone for field work at Van Damme State Park, Little River, CA
Studying moon snails at the Smithsonian Tropical Research
Institute's Naos Laboratory in Panama City, Panama
Why do I want to study marine biology?
For reasons unknown to me, I have always been completely fascinated by the natural world. I think it has something to do with my father being a chemist. He was a mad scientist of sorts, and I have a rich library of memories of his hands-on, home-made chemistry demos. Most of them I did not understand, but they opened my mind to the world of chemistry and, more broadly, the sciences. It became clear to me that there was so much I didn't understand about how the world worked. These frequent encounters with what I could not understand got me accustomed to feeling ignorant, a feeling which drove me to seek answers. Once I found some answers, I would learn more questions, and pursue those. Every time I discovered more about the world, a new world was opened to me. As they say, "the more you learn, the less you know." The void of knowledge was endless, and I was ecstatic to launch myself into it.
As I pursued my interests, I found myself most interested in Biology, and what I learned throughout high school and college helped me develop a very deep appreciation for life. Furthermore, I was addicted to the applicability of everything I learned from my biology book. I would read about photosynthesis and then go outside and marvel at green leaves. (I have a very specific memory of doing just this, trying to express my joy and excitement to my high school boyfriend as we were laying on his trampoline under some overhanging oak leaves leaves in his backyard. I'm not sure he got the same rush of excitement from these leaves as I did.) Eventually, the influences of the environmental movement and my love for the outdoors helped channel my interests toward Ecology. My interest in marine ecology began when I was awarded the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship in 2010. The next summer I did fisheries research for the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and learned what it was like to be a government researcher. I felt very comfortable there. Since I had very broad interests in ecology, and I enjoyed doing fisheries research, I figured that this NOAA internship would give me good leverage to get more marine ecology internships, and I decided to make marine ecology my research focus. After all, if I'm studying the ocean, I'd have to live by the coast, and that doesn't sound so bad.
Since then I've successfully pursued a variety of marine research internships, loved all of them, and I'm extremely excited now to by studying marine ecology and evolution at UC Santa Cruz. It's been a great journey so far, but I feel like I'm still just beginning!