My Interests

I am currently an Education Specialist and the Director of the Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students (RESESS) internship program managed by UNAVCO, where my primary area of focus is crafting strategies for attracting, training, and retaining the diverse geoscience workforce of the future. My graduate and postdoctoral research interests focused on the geology and evolution of volcanic terrains on Earth and other terrestrial planets, and while I no longer actively conduct research, I still keep my eye on the exciting developments in planetary science. Although I have always loved cooking, movies, camping and spending time outdoors, living in Colorado has further developed the skier, hiker, and all around nature lover in me, and I try to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can.

How I became a scientist

Growing up in suburban Minnesota I was the odd little kid in the neighborhood who was always picking up rocks and examining them—but then washing them and selling them to the other neighborhood kids.  Even as a child I had a dual (some might say competing) fascination with natural processes and securing a financial future for myself, so I began to lean more toward a degree in medicine.  By the time I entered college, I was quite set on a biology major followed by medical school with a cardiology specialty.  But then I took intro geology, and that love of rocks, the earth, natural processes, and deep time resurfaced.  It was even more powerful that I had a professor who took note of that interest and nurtured it with authentic research opportunities (thank you Dr. Jeff Karson!), including the opportunity to dive in the Alvin submersible as an undergrad. I was hooked.  

My undergraduate research experience enabled me to secure a one-year internship position at Brown University where I explored the field of planetary geosciences. By the time I finished my internship I was torn between my love of submarine volcanology and my newly discovered love of planetary geology. I made the decision to go to the University of Hawaii to get my master’s degree in submarine, and then finish up with my doctorate in planetary volcanology. It was the best of both worlds.

Following my graduate education, I was an Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate postdoctoral fellow at Syracuse University, where I continued my work as a planetary volcanologist, as well as participated extensively in science education and community outreach initiatives. I volunteered in the Earth Science classroom of the Science and Technology Entry Program, educating and exciting middle and high school students about the array of opportunities in the earth sciences. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, I also served as Camp Director for the Girls Get It! Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) camp for middle school girls from the Syracuse City School District.

As I evaluated my interests toward the end of my postdoc, my desire to facilitate a change in the exposure and participation of a broad population of people in the geosciences directed my pathway from Syracuse in a new direction, where I was able to contribute to science policymaking on Capitol Hill for one year. I worked in the office of Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) as the 2011-2012 William L. Fisher Geosciences/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Science Fellow. This fellowship provided extensive opportunity to learn additional skills that I had not been formally taught during my time in academia, including effective networking and self-branding. I believe these very skills enabled me to secure my current position at UNAVCO, and to help craft effective internship professional development opportunities to facilitate professional acumen in geoscience students.