Why did you choose to become a scientist?
I can't remember not wanting to be a scientist. I've been collecting bugs and gathering specimens from the field by my house since before I can remember. I enjoy spending time outside, thinking deeply about ideas, and helping wildlife, all of which makes this career a perfect fit for me.
What are your current research interests?
I'm currently focusing on how lands used to produce cattle can also benefit grassland birds and arthropods. Grasslands that support cattle often have been planted with invasive grasses, and I'm focused on one particular invasive grass called tall fescue. Tall fescue is highly valued because it can help control soil erosion and can survive droughts, but it also can make cattle lose weight and potentially causes problems for birds and arthropods. So, I'm exploring how birds and arthropods respond to tall fescue management, but I’m also exploring how willing landowners are to implement this management. I think it’s critical that scientists, especially environmental scientists, don’t neglect the human dimensions of their research.
Choose one quality that you think is the most important for making a good scientist. Why?
Curiosity. Being excited about the process of exploration makes all the mundane tasks more than worth it.
What advice would you have for aspiring scientists?
Collaborate with your peers and your students. Collaboration not only has the potential to increase the number of manuscripts you have, but it also can challenge your viewpoints, change your perspective, force you to defend your science, and its fun!
Why 500 women scientists?
Whether we like it or not, science is political. Existing as a woman in science has taught me that. Not only can we influence policy, but scientists are also humans that interact with policy. And these humans include immigrants, people of color, LGBT folks, and more groups who are disproportionately affected by systemic oppression. If scientists ignore these issues, we become complicit in this oppression. Thus, I want to learn how to make science more inclusive and welcoming for all these groups. In particular, I'm currently interested in learning how to make science more welcoming to trans people, who are not often a part of our 'diversity' conversations.