Education and experience
2013-Present: Outreach Specialist at UNAVCO
2013: M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from University of Colorado – Boulder
2007-2010: Field engineering, education & outreach, and content production at UNAVCO
2003-2007: Field Engineer at UNAVCO
2002: M.S. in Geophysics from Indiana University – Bloomington
1998: B.A. in Geology and Spanish Language & Literature from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA
My professional interests center around Earth science and communication. For my MS, I studied volcano geodesy, measuring deformation at volcanoes to infer what’s going on underneath. For my MA, I interviewed people living around an active volcano to learn what keeps them there. In my current job as the Outreach Specialist at UNAVCO, I get to solve communication challenges. How do we communicate to multiple audiences about Earth science? Outside of work, I enjoy reading, writing, photography, hiking, traveling, drinking tea (I do a lot of that at work as well), learning, and general adventuring. I love doing things I’ve never done before.
How I became a scientist
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was surrounded by natural hazards and natural beauty—volcanoes, young mountains, deep gorges, and glacially carved valleys and lakes. I loved being outside and loved learning about the world around me. Though I considered English and environmental studies as other majors in college, geology won me over. I loved the problem solving, working with maps, having a deeper understanding of the landscapes around me, and the adventures and camaraderie that came with being a geologist. I also liked the societal applications of geology, thinking I wanted to study water and / or glacier systems. During my senior year, natural hazards drew me in. I became fascinated with catastrophic events. Thus, I went on to study volcanoes, interested again in the societal applications of the science and in the collaborative and immediate nature of volcanology. I became a science communicator because I wanted to broaden my impact by giving the public a better understanding of the science that they, as taxpayers, fund. I also really, really love the problem solving that goes with trying to figure out how to convey scientific concepts and why they matter.
How my work benefits society
Communicating science increases scientific literacy, which helps us to make better, more informed decisions and to appreciate the world around us. I also work to teach science communication to scientists, which gives the public even more access to science and helps scientists promote their work. I work with interns to help emerging scientists better promote themselves so that they can progress through their careers and so that we can have a more diverse workforce—something that society benefits from because we improve science through diverse perspectives. As for the volcano side of things, better understanding volcanoes helps us to prepare for future eruptions, and effective eruption prediction allows us to take action at the right times. Understanding how people perceive risk is key in effective messaging that encourages action, and opening communications channels between scientists and the public improves the entire preparedness process. We build more resilient communities through good science and good two-way communication!