Environmental Protection Agency
Background: I am a toxicologist working as a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at EPA's The Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. I was previously a Peace Corps volunteer in Mexico at SEMARNAT (Mexico's "EPA\). Although I have lived in the United States for most of my life, I was born in Canada, and have lived in all three of North America's countries.
Question 1. Why did you become a scientist? What lead you to your field of work?
Answer: I became a scientist because I am curious and enjoy trying to understand the natural world. I was drawn to toxicology for its relevance and the possibility of applying this understanding and knowledge to solve problems.
Question 2. Share a story from your past that lead to choosing your field of work.
Answer: After years in toxicology, I was interested in exploring new horizons, and so served in Peace Corps as a Volunteer. Their Mexico program utilized technical specialists and I was keen to live in and to better understand Mexico. The experience of living in a different culture and speaking another language was profound. I am a proponent of Peace Corps, as are most returned Volunteers. My experience in Mexico gave me a strong perspective on the urgency for sustainability in how we use our environment. While in Mexico I helped organize the Central Mexico chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. Now my AAAS Fellowship has been a great opportunity to pursue my broad interest in environmental science.
Question 3. Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.
Answer: I love the outdoors and have enjoyed a variety of recreation activities including kayaking (river and sea), sailing, climbing, and skiing. Now I generally take the simpler approach, and hike in the outdoors when I can.
Question 4. What's your favorite food?
Answer: I enjoy variety rather than a single favorite. My diet is mainly vegetarian, I personally see this as an easy way to reduce my environmental foot print—giving up travel would be much more difficult. My favorite meal is vegetables from the local Mexican mercado (squash flowers, asparagus, huitlacoche or "corm smut", local mushrooms...), Oaxaca cheese and blue corn tortillas with plenty of salsa.
Question 5. Read a book you are dying to tell your peers about? Give us a brief summary and why you love it.
Answer: Don Quixote of la Mancha is widely known, but perhaps slightly less widely read in the United States. Grossman's translation (2005) captures a good amount of Cervante's wonderfully nuanced comedy/ social commentary. I had enough time in the Peace Corps to read some classic literature that I had not read or adequately appreciated before.