ISOpods is coordinated by UC Davis postdoctoral researchers with diverse backgrounds in marine science and education.
From catching tadpoles in small ponds as a kid growing up in Iowa, to currently trying to save an endangered abalone species as a scientist at UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab, I have always had a passion for the natural world. I paved my career path by taking advantage of hands-on learning opportunities and working hard to fine-tune my skills and interests. Throughout my education, I benefited immensely from research-based learning experiences, and I love returning to the classroom to create similar experiences for a new generation of budding young scientists.
At age four, I saw my first dinosaur fossils and I asked, “Where are the dinosaurs with skin on them?” When I learned that birds are dinosaurs that evolved over millions of years, I was hooked. What could be more exciting than being a science detective and piecing together clues about how life has changed over time?! I started collecting rocks, shells, and fossils, and began asking (and answering) questions about the natural world. My fondest childhood memories involve hiking, sailing, and kayaking, and include trips to museums, national parks, and beaches. My love of marine science led me to study biology at UC Santa Barbara, and I earned my PhD in the Department of Geology at UC Davis. I investigate how marine animals, such as snails and clams, grow their shells, and the effects of environmental change on shell development, chemistry, and appearance. Shells record stories about when and where organisms live and grow, and how estuarine and intertidal systems change through time. My work has applications in conservation biology and anthropological studies, and I am currently involved in research in the Department of Anthropology exploring the use and trade of shells by native peoples in California. I have had opportunities to share my broad interests in biology and geology while teaching in K-12 classrooms, and at UC Davis, CSU Sacramento, and UC Berkeley. As NSF GK-12 CAMEOS program coordinator (2011-2014), I collaborated with BML faculty, UC Davis graduate students, and classroom teachers to develop and implement inquiry-based curricula and provide authentic research experiences for middle and high school students.
Following my sophomore year in high school, my family and I moved from suburban Wisconsin to coastal California. Settling quickly into my new habitat, I loved to sit on the beach, stare off to sea, and imagine the life and activity beneath the surface, under the waves. I spent time learning about the mysterious creatures crawling and growing in the tidepools. I learned to bodyboard. I learned to SCUBA dive. And I vowed to always be near a coastline. My transformation from Midwesterner to coastal dweller was total and irreversible. In college I became aware that despite appearing vast and untouched, there were a number of threats to the ocean and its resources, and I became interested in marine biology, environmental issues and conservation. During college I started doing scientific research examining the effects of pollution and other stressors on marine embryos, and that's what I've been doing ever since. I love the way my chosen field of marine toxicology intersects with so many other scientific fields: from reproductive biology and embryology to chemistry and the fate of chemicals in the environment; from cell biology to marine biology and ecology. I love to think, talk and communicate about science, pollution and conservation, and I’ve found that the best conversations often happen where these fields intersect. Teaching curious students of all ages has become my favorite part of being a scientist. By engaging with students I am able to see the amazing natural world anew.