I grew up in Maryland in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. In high school, I was interested in everything, including art history, writing, web design, and science. It wasn’t until my college years that my interest in science really came to the forefront, and this was because of three hands-on research experiences: a tropical ecology field-study course in Belize, a marine science internship on the Chesapeake Bay, and a summer job as a research assistant in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It was then that I discovered that pursuing environmental science meant that I could have a challenging and interesting career that allowed me to spend time outdoors among some of the most beautiful surroundings imaginable.
Now, I feel lucky that I get to spend time in the eastern Sierra Nevada to conduct my dissertation research on climate change, a flammable non-native grass (cheatgrass), and fire risk. I use snow and rain manipulations to study climate change impacts on cheatgrass and native plant species. Often, it looks more like I am playing than working – on a typical work day in the winter, you’ll find me snowshoeing all over the place and, during spring and summer, I am out hiking around the mountains. I think it is pretty cool that some of the things I get to do for work are activities that people like to do for fun!
Getting hands on research experience in college showed me how rewarding and fun a career in environmental science could be. I am excited to work, learn, and have fun with the teachers and students at Watsonville High School this year!