Summer sampling travels continued! Todd, Cheyenne, Niko and I just got back from Panama, where we spent 2.5 weeks working at STRI in Bocas. Emily and Bridget took a course in Cnidarians/Ctenophores, so we had a fantastic time as a lab hitting the water and watching ostracods signal. The species resident in the sea grass beds there signals synchronously, so we got to watch waves and waves of spectacular bioluminescence. I can't wait to dive into the transcriptomes from the many ostracods we get to bring home. We also tried a mark-recapture of ostracods; we actually DID recapture some, which surprised all of us! And of course, there were sloths.
Embarrassing as it may be to have pictures of myself as a 4 year old out in the world, the Washington Post recently covered my quest to find and thank a childhood mentor. I'm so grateful to Dawn Fallik, the reporter who helped put me in touch with the amazing Dr. Vernard Lewis. Read the full article here:
And don't forget to thank your mentors! We are all here because of the people who took our dreams seriously. If Vernard hadn't told me what a PhD was, and told me that anyone could go to college, I might not be sitting here with a PhD, ready to take a shot at the academic job market. If I successfully become a professor, I hope to one day receive letters from 4-year olds.
If you're reading this because you found my story of being inspired by a bug collection, hi! I ended up working on ocean-bugs, but I'm still that same passionate, nerdy 4 year old at heart.
If you are one of the hundreds who reached out to share a personal story of the mentorship moment that changed your life, THANK YOU. I'm vaguely horrified by all of this attention, but hearing so many stories of scientists making a genuine difference fills my heart with hope. My lab-mates and I have spent days regaling one another with the comments that resonated with us.
If you'd like to do something wonderful, please consider supporting one of the scientific outreach organizations making a difference to children right now! This could be a museum or science outreach center in your neighborhood, or:
SkypeAScientist (https://www.classy.org/give/350351/#!/donation/checkout) - I've been working with this amazing site for years now, bringing scientists live into classrooms via Skype or Zoom to show children that people from all kinds of backgrounds and places can be scientists! I've worked with students from kindergarten through high school over the years. We get to work with teachers to tailor our presentations and discussions to whatever the class is focused on at that moment. My favorite thing is the off-the-wall questions I get (how fast do lobsters swim?!).
Letters to a PreScientist (https://prescientist.org/donors-and-partners/) - This group pairs students in low-income neighborhoods with scientist pen-pals for a year. We exchange letters across four themes to invite our student to dream big and know that they CAN be a scientist (or anything else!). I have a file folder of letters saved from across the years, and they all make me feel like small actions make a big difference.
Thanks to everybody who shared their stories. I loved being part of showcasing the very human passion that drives us all.