Scientist at Heart
Born in the midwest to a family that loves the outdoors, I've wanted to be an "ologist" as long as I can remember. My first dream career was to be a geologist: because I wanted an awesome rock collection. As the years went by I shifted from geologist to zoologist to marine biologist. Thanks to some amazing high school experiences, that one stuck and I set out to become a marine educator. To make that happen, I moved to the coast and earned a degree in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
For career day in preschool I wanted to go as a geologist but the easiest career costume to pull together last minute was a ballerina.
A Decade of Experience
After an amazing four years at UNCW earning a degree in Marine Biology and a teaching license, I set out to become a marine educator. I had the opportunity to work in the Florida Keys and Tennessee, before returning to UNCW for a masters in Environmental Studies. During my masters I got hired to work at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. During this decade of marine education, I was able to feed my need to travel with conferences in Alaska, research trips to Bermuda, and climate change educator training across the country. Meeting educators across the country and building a network of diverse colleagues lead to my interest in researching informal science educators.
Want more information? Check out my CV
I am currently a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of STEM Education in the College of Education at North Carolina State University. My area of interest is informal science education with a focus on professional pathways, and self-efficacy related to teaching in informal science settings. Under my advisor’s guidance, I conducted an independent research project to explore this interest in my first year. The study examined informal science educators’ self-efficacy related to teaching in informal science centers. These survey data were used to develop a proposal to examine the professional tracks of informal science educators for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. My proposal was highly rated and I was the first person in my department to be awarded the fellowship.
In addition to conducting my own research, I am also exploring the influence of informal science experiences on student interest in science and STEM careers. I am acting as project manager on an NSF grant Promoting STEM Interests and Careers Through FAME: Families and Museums Exploring for my advisor, Dr. M. Gail Jones. Learn more about our research here.
It's not all science all the time, though.
How better to experience the world than to get out in it? I have been fortunate that my career path has offered me the opportunity to travel around the world and experience new cultures and cultivate a network of colleagues across the globe.
My only real hobby is photography. I enjoy nature photography and am often found with multiple cameras on me. I have even had a photo I took of a sea turtle throat published in a children's book on reptiles!
While I grew up in the midwest, I was fortunate to go to a high school with a marine biology program. I have been dive certified since I was a freshman in high school and have a list of sites across the world I'm still looking to visit.