The wonders of the natural world first sparked my interest in science – chasing waves in the Pacific Ocean, squishing through mud in the Oregon Cascades, mesmerized by predator-prey interactions in the Okavango Delta in southern Africa. I am inspired to share this curiosity and wonder with others while working towards a sustainable future where Earth’s ecosystems – both natural and human – are vibrantly diverse, just, and equitable. Here are some recent efforts I have been involved in:
Writing for the Conversations in Science at Indiana University blog has helped me improve my science communication skills and given me a platform to share my research (as well as life under the hood of a PhD scientists’ life) with a broader audience. Check out some of my recent blog posts and let me know what you think!
Fostering sustainable communities requires that we elevate the role of science in society and decision-making. During my PhD, I helped build a coalition of Indiana University and south-central Indiana community members to promote science and science policy in Indiana. We are the Concerned Scientists @ Indiana University, with more than 1000 members and growing! I also launched an affiliated IU student organization, Advocates for Science @ Indiana University.
In 2018, I was a Science and Democracy Fellow with the Union of Concerned Scientists. One component of my fellowship including hosting a “Science Advocacy and Civic Leadership Workshop” for IU students. Contact me if you are interested in learning more – I’d be happy to share resources and help you lead a similar workshop in your community.
I collaborated with Vijay Limaye, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, to promote evidence-based science advocacy for scientists and scientist-in-training through a peer-reviewed commentary article and a blog post. We recognized that the development of scientific engagement skills is increasingly a worthwhile and necessary element of scientific training, yet traditional scientific training has not emphasized such skills needed to coherently translate nuanced scientific research to audiences beyond one's inner academic circle. Looking across levels of organization (e.g., individuals, lab groups, departments/universities, and across institutions), we highlighted both existing opportunities and areas where improved capacity for science engagement is warranted.
Cross-cultural communication and competency
Science has benefited greatly from our increasingly interconnected world, including enhanced idea and data sharing and greater inclusivity in STEM fields (although we have a ways to go in that regard). The technical challenges (and opportunities) of carrying out large collaborative projects and managing and analyzing big datasets has deservedly been an increasing focus in STEM training. Less emphasized, but equally (more?) important are the 'critical skills' challenges of collaborative and cross-cultural scientific research. Growing up, I was fascinated by cultures different than my own, and my work with the Student Diplomacy Corps, Ecology Project International, and my M.S. graduate research in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica only furthered this curiosity and highlighted the importance of effective and compassionate cross-cultural communication in all lines of work. I am committed to promoting these values in the STEM community. Currently, in my research studying socio-ecological patterns in urban forests, I am engaging with diverse local partners, particularly Indigenous Dakota community members, and trying to lear what kind, just, and effective community collaborations and co-produced research can look like.