OUTREACH AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Participating in outreach events has been a highlight of my graduate career. In the summer of 2022, I designed an outreach event for middle schoolers with the goal of demonstrating: microbes are everywhere! This gave the students their first hands-on experience designing an experiment and examining self-collected data. I hope to publish this activity soon, making it publicly available. So, stay tuned!
In addition, I helped found Nerd Nite Reno; a free monthly lecture series open to the public where speakers give TED-style talks about nerdy topics. Although Nerd Nite started as a place to share whimsical ideas, we try to reach speakers who are dedicated to building a strong Reno community, including informal science educators, art and museum directors, and social activists. Watching the event grow and take on a life of its own with the Reno community has made all the work establishing the event worthwhile.
My science career started with my undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas. It was there that I gained some hands-on experience studying bees in a restoration context. Tromping around remote tallgrass prairies observing plant-pollinator interactions, I caught the bug. I knew I wanted to continue trying to understand the natural world and the complex relationships that contribute to its diversity and beauty. From Kansas, I packed up my bags, and made a long and arduous journey all the way to Nebraska for my Master’s. There I focused my studies on plants and the environmental factors which drive community-level change. Following my master’s degree, I was fortunate enough to earn a Research Associate position with Melinda Smith at Colorado State University where I utilized my background in plant community ecology to study nutrient gradients and drought. But I knew all this plant community work was missing one thing: bees! I emerged from these experiences with a fiery determination to work with pollinators yet again. I arrived in Anne Leonard’s lab in the summer of 2018 where I jumped right in to learning (along with the bees) about bees' cognition while shadowing Felicity Muth. Since this time, I have experienced the thrill of watching neurons respond to stimuli while collaborating with Dennis Mathew and dipped my toes into the bee microbiome world. Each of these projects has been wildly different and I always feel like I'm starting from scratch, diving into a new area of study or technique. And I like it that way.
In my free time, I continue spending too much time outside. Whether I'm climbing, camping, swimming in an alpine lake, or earning some gnarly sunburns, my favorite way to spend time is exploring the natural world.