National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Habitat Conservation
Background: I am an ecosystem ecologist who studies primarily wetland ecosystems. I study how plant species and soil characteristics influence microbial processes and greenhouse gas production. In my AAAS Energy, Environment and Agriculture Fellowship at NOAA I am examining how we value the benefits we get from nature (such as clean water) and how to include these benefits in our policies and decisions. I am also working on the development of environmental markets (for example, nutrient trading) in the Chesapeake Bay.
Question 1: Why did you become a scientist?
Answer: I was twelve in March of 1989 when the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska. The day my parents' National Geographic came with an oiled bird on the cover, I immediately read the entire story; all the photos of the dead wildlife made me incredibly sad and angry that this event had been allowed to occur. I decided that day that I wanted to become an environmental scientist to help save the environment and I have followed that path ever since.
Question 2: What are you most proud of in your work?
Answer: My collaborations with others scientists, particularly younger scientists. I have also mentored several undergrad and Master's students through independent research projects. I have never been prouder than when two of my mentees told me their papers were going to be published.
Question 3: Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.
Answer: I love to cook and bake! I currently get four cooking magazines and each weekend I plan out a weekly menu for dinners (when I am home and not attending Fellow events!). I love trying new recipes but I also have two binders of my favorite recipes that I have been collecting for over a decade. My favorite way to start the weekend is by making a special breakfast of homemade pancakes, muffins, coffee cake, and apple puff pancakes.
Question 4: What's playing on your iPod/music player?
Answer: Dixie Chicks, Pink Martini, Keane, Jersey Boys (or for when I am in a quieter mood Satie, Chopin, Faure, Enya). I love lots of types of music and I love to sing. So, when I get down or lonely, I usually blast the music and sing at the top of my lungs while baking something in the kitchen or dancing around the living room with my dog.
Question 5: Share a weblink and tell us why it excites you.
Answer: http://pbskids.org/dragonflytv/show/wetlands.html Shameless propaganda! I had the extraordinary opportunity to work with PBS DragonflyTV on a show called SciGirls. I was one of the scientists mentors for the program and I got to work with three very talented, charming middle school girls as they did a bioblitz looking at biodiversity in three types of wetlands in North Carolina. We spent two weekends filming the project. It was grueling; we worked very long days. But it was an absolute blast for both the girls and me.
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