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Category: Interviews (page 2 of 3)

Meet Wildlife Biologist Imogene Cancellare

One dark and rainy night during my commute home from work, I was scrolling through the endless feed of images on Instagram-as one does- when I discovered a young biologist with a bright sunny face and captivating feed:

@biologistimogene – Imogene Cancellare – Wildlife biologist, conservationist, starving artist, optimist. Adventures welcome. Photos my own.

With 5,184 followers, I quickly joined the ranks of admirers. I gobbled up Imogene’s video shorts and inspiring selfies in the field. I felt transported into the world of a Wildlife Biologist. 

With so many awesome posts of her nonchalantly holding lizards, snakes, and large mammals it is no wonder Instagram featured her in their “Scientists in the Field”


Before I knew it,  30 minutes had passed and it was time to get off the bus.

I walked home in the rain, head buried in the phone. I couldn’t stop scrolling. What I really appreciated about her feed were not just images and videos, but the amount of information and detail she shared with her followers which gave educational context to everything she posted.

A true educator’s spirit.

I stayed up through the night reading everything I could find about her career in Wildlife Biology.

Imogene is currently a Research Technician working in the Lance Lab within the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory  at the University of Georgia and has a B.S. in Animal Science from North Caroline State University (2010) and an M.S. in Biology from West Texas A&M University (2015).


As a research technician, she assist with a variety of molecular and ecotoxicology projects across an array of taxa with a particular focus on salamanders and newts. Her work doesn’t stop there!

Bill, from Southwest Jaguars, did an excellent Q&A with Imogene in which, through a series of 12 questions, she generously shared about her research with meso-carnivores and other charismatic mega-fauna.  As the Q&A came to an end, I grew sad that it was over. Naturally, I had more questions of my own. By the powers of Social Media, I reached out and asked Imogene my questions!

It is without further ado that I present to you:

Woman Scientist Interview with Imogene Cancellare – Wildlife Biologist

Davis baby gator

What type of scientist do you consider yourself?

My education falls in the areas of ecology, conservation, wildlife management, and genetics. I’m a wildlife biologist, but I also consider myself a conservation biologist and a landscape geneticist. I’ve been called worse.

What is your earliest memory of being hooked by science?

I remember being fascinated with amphibian metamorphosis as a child. Every summer I would watch frog and toad eggs hatch and watch daily as the tadpoles slowly changed into froglets, then into terrestrial adults. I didn’t realize at the time that this could be anything other than curiosity- I just assumed that people who liked animals were veterinarians. However, when I was in fifth grade my elementary school hosted a science fair, and I was excited to find that people actually tested and/or manipulated the things they found in nature. I created a project to evaluate the causes of fighting in roosters during certain seasons. While I didn’t place in the competition, and the experimental design was terrible, I had so much fun performing observations and testing interactions, logging my findings, and talking to adults about testosterone surges.

#tbt to the time I determined I probably wouldn't be a fisheries biologist

#tbt to the time I determined I probably wouldn’t be a fisheries biologist

Was there any one person that inspired you?

My grandfather was a medical doctor and radiologist, and one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I dedicated my thesis to him because of his love for science. He taught me that higher education is the most important thing you can do and that biology is endlessly spellbinding. His respect for the scientific process and desire to never stop learning heavily impact my goals as a scientist.

When I was in college and trying to decide what field best suited my interests as well as addressed the needs of wildlife conservation, I decided to take a trip by myself to Washington, DC for an annual fundraiser for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). CCF is an amazing conservation organization focused on cheetah conservation in the wild as well as addressing the needs of human communities so human and wildlife can coexist. It’s a really active way to address conservation needs, and the founder and CEO, Dr. Laurie Marker, has an unmatched focus towards this effort. I have a lot of respect for her, as she is a self-made career woman, scientist, and top-notch conservationist. I got the chance to privately sit down with her in DC (and Dr. Stephen J. O’Brien, a world-class geneticist who at the time I didn’t realize is basically famous) and speak with both of them about my career goals. At that time I was divided on my interests in veterinary medicine and wildlife biology, and I asked her what avenue most strongly matched the needs in conservation. She smiled at me and said that if my goals were to, for example, save a species, that I could always collaborate with a really good veterinarian and be free to simultaneously work in other areas. It was a subtle suggestion, but it spoke volumes. I’m so thankful for that private meeting because I got to sit down with two renowned scientists and receive advice that has really spearheaded my career focus.

Dr. Laurie Marker with cheetah "Chewbacca" (CCF's ambassador cheetah that was rescued from a trap on a livestock farm and raised by Dr. Marker) Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia

Dr. Laurie Marker with cheetah “Chewbacca” (CCF’s ambassador cheetah that was rescued from a trap on a livestock farm and raised by Dr. Marker)
Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia

What did you study during undergrad? Did you know what you wanted to study before beginning?

My bachelor’s degree is in Animal Science. I chose this major in part because I was interested in veterinary school. This was not the ideal major choice for me, however, because the biology coursework was lacking, and my interests eventually funneled into wildlife biology. I didn’t realize until the latter half of my degree that I wanted to study a different type of science, and so began my many internships and extra coursework in wildlife sciences. I went to Australia in 2008 for a study abroad program on wildlife medicine, and our classes on ocean conservation really ignited my interest in working in conservation research. This non-traditional background has been useful to my work as a wildlife biologist, however, in that my skills often fill particular niches (which roughly translates to me being able to handle a lot of species without injury as well as perform necropsies and assist in deliveries…though I wouldn’t ever try to help a bear give birth). I didn’t always know that my interests were meant for the field of wildlife biology, but I think my background is a good example of how veterinary medicine isn’t the only way to investigate animal systems.

Davis sleepy bear

This bear was the biggest one I have ever seen. Helping the Missouri Black Bear Project take morphometric measurements includes overall body length, girth, tail length, leg length, even foot and toe length. Bears were also fitted with a radio collar for tracking purposes.

What was your first science-related job?

I did an internship at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences during my undergrad. I worked for the mammalogy department in the basement of the museum processing specimens and transcribing data files from the early 1900’s. It was a really cool gig because I got to cut up dead things (yes I really do enjoy that) and see firsthand how reporting data and disseminating research is useful to a variety of research efforts, no matter how old.

My first paid science-related job was right out of undergrad when I moved to northwest Montana to work on a bobcat ecology project. We were near Glacier National Park and I got paid to hike in remote back-country for several months collecting vegetation info, performing bobcat necropsies, and chasing radio-collared bobcats. To this day it remains the most fun I’ve ever had. I was regularly banged up and bruised up, but I worked with a phenomenal PhD student and developed a vast array of skills. We like to joke that it was a great summer because we didn’t get killed- we had a close encounter with a mama griz, almost fell off some cliffs, almost got swept away while crossing a river, and even got a teeny bit lost one day due to a compass malfunction (be sure to never have magnets on your gear if you are handling a compass in the middle of nowhere). Joking aside, it was a great project and a great experience. It is because of this position that I was offered all other research jobs.

 Passing an anesthetized 007 to Mark.

Passing an anesthetized 007 to Mark.

What led you to get a Master’s Degree? 

Obtaining my PhD in this field has been a long-term goal, so getting my master’s degree was part of the process. I didn’t feel qualified or prepared to jump straight into a PhD, and my master’s was a great introduction to creating and managing my own research. While not all areas of wildlife biology require a master’s degree or PhD, it is a competitive field and many positions regularly look for candidates with master’s degrees. However, there are many career options in this field where degrees above a B.S. are not required. Because I’m interested in wildlife research, getting a PhD is the most practical way to eventually have my own research program. I’m interested in landscape genetics, spatial ecology, and population connectivity, which means I’ll be looking for degree programs focusing on conservation biology, ecology and evolution, etc. On a personal level, I just want to be the best at whatever I do, and higher education is an avenue I’ve chosen to help accomplish that. I’m also totally nerdy and I love college! I would go to classes forever if they let me.


I received my master’s degree in wildlife biology at West Texas A&M University

Has your work allowed you to travel? If so, where have you gone and what were you doing there?

Yes! I have been fortunate to join research efforts across the US. I’ve worked in Montana, California, Washington, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and South Carolina on various research projects. Before starting my master’s degree these positions involved field research, where I primarily worked gathering, monitoring, and/or processing biological data for different wildlife research projects. These efforts involved live-trapping and handling of bobcat and bears, collecting DNA samples from foxes, wolverine, fishers, and martens, studying reproductive hormones in the clouded leopard, and managing camera traps for wildlife studies. In graduate school I was also able to participate in a lot of research efforts outside of my own, and I’ve worked in several areas of Texas on various lizard, snake, and fish monitoring projects. My current research position in South Carolina gets me into the field to work with salamanders, so I’ve been fortunate to travel to a lot of places and see a lot of things. My personal favorites were working outside of Glacier National Park and in the Sierra Nevada of California.

Mole salamanders are stout salamanders with large, flattened heads. This Ambystomatid species is found throughout the coastal plains of the southeast US.

Mole salamanders are stout salamanders with large, flattened heads. This Ambystomatid species is found throughout the coastal plains of the southeast US.

Can you share with us about your experiences working in different sectors such as academia, industry, non-profit, eco-tourism, citizen science, contracting, small business, or entrepreneurship?

I’ve mostly worked for academic institutions and federal agencies, including various universities, the US Forest Service, and the Smithsonian. I have enjoyed both avenues immensely because there is a heavy focus on the quality of research and the importance of disseminating that information to both the scientific community as well as to the public. Of course, the sector you choose to work in depends on your interests- I am interested in research as well as education, and fortunately for me that creates some flexibility. I currently work in social media to educate the public about nature- I think this is necessary for biologists. I also have friends who have done important conservation work in the private business sector, which shows that there are many opportunities in this field.


Holding a five-year-old 6-foot eastern indigo snake. These nonvenomous snakes are a threatened species that range throughout the eastern United States and prefer woodland habitat with burrows and debris piles. I showed this snake at a Boy Scouts event working with members of the West Texas A&M University chapter of The Wildlife Society focusing on wildlife education. Kudos to this ambassador snake for being very calm with so many Scouts wanting to learn about him.

Did you have any preconceived notions about science, or scientists, and did that change once you explored your career in science?

When I was younger I assumed that you have to be a bit of an antisocial genius in order to be a scientist. Aren’t scientists on screen and in books often portrayed as insular, peculiar, and a bit lofty? When I was younger I assumed that I couldn’t be a scientist because math scared me and because I love talking to people. Sometimes I still freeze up when it comes to numbers, but that hasn’t hindered my career in science at all. Also, many of the biologists I know are the most social butterflies of all! There is nothing more enjoyable than having a beer and talking science- really, that’s what a lot of scientists do! I know a few geniuses of course, but you don’t have to be dry and unyielding to be a scientist. Scientists aren’t scary or boring at all- some of the coolest people I know are biologists!

Davis snowmobiling

What were, or currently are, some big compromises or struggles you’ve experienced making a career for yourself in the science world?

Realistically, finding a permanent position that pays the bills has been the hardest part as a new graduate. For many, getting a master’s degree is necessary in order to make money in this field (though certainly not for all, and not always a requirement). Many wildlife science-related positions are in more remote areas of the country, which means that compromise is often necessary in terms of making life decisions. Finding balance is not impossible, but it is challenging, particularly when career interests funnel your options.

Now that I’m a little older, I’m not immune to issues that a woman in science might face. I have previously experienced inequality in the workplace (I spent an entire summer on a field research crew where I was the only woman), and while it certainly didn’t hold me back, dealing with issues such as salary inequality and sometimes the blatant sexism women can experience in the science world is both astounding as well as frustrating. My gender doesn’t cross my mind as a factor regarding my qualifications, so the notion that I could struggle in this field because I’m a woman is a little foreign and a little funny to me, but it’s not something that I totally ignore because it happens. If the time comes when I decide to start a family, it may involve compromise that I wouldn’t have to deal with if I were a man. I’m not there yet, but I have no intentions of letting that happen. I love science and I’m good at it, and at the end of the day that’s what drives us.

Davis river rapid

What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling the drudgery? What keeps science FUN for you?

I can’t imagine not having a job where I get to go outside and see things, find things, or explore. I do spend a lot of time in a research lab working with genetic samples, though, and even though I love it, sometimes you need a change of pace. Nothing rejuvenates me like getting my hands dirty or my heart rate up, and for me that usually involves field work or recreational time outside, like hiking. When I’m hiked out, I turn to painting (I paint wildlife and landscapes). For me, however, science is the most fun when you can share it- I really enjoy doing education programs for children and adults on wildlife and conservation. I’m also very active on social media- I post “facts of the day” on Instagram about wildlife I’ve encountered or worked with. It both reminds me why I’m interested in this field as well as satisfies my goal of getting others involved in nature. I’ll be launching a wildlife-themed podcast next month with a colleague. It’s called The Radio Collar- be sure to look out for it!

Davis lab work

What do you want to achieve in your career? What is your big dream?

I plan to complete a PhD in the areas of conservation biology and ecology. My research interests are mediated by the desire to conserve biodiversity as well as study landscape connectivity regarding natural resource problems in conservation biology. I want to use my skills in a position that expects me to conduct quality wildlife research as well as works to engage the public. I specifically want to use my education to teach people how important and finite our natural resources are, including wildlife and natural habitat. My big dream is to work with an organization like National Geographic creating media that inspires and fascinates us to participate in conservation.

Davis telemetry

What are some key points you wish you knew or that you remind yourself of during your science career journey?

I absolutely love what I do, but it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of it all if you aren’t careful! I shouldn’t have worried so much about the end game between my bachelor’s and master’s degree. I worried a lot about getting into a funded graduate program (I did), and getting jobs that would help me along the way (I did), and meeting the right people and making the right choices for my career (I did). Science is a serious field, and requires a certain mindset and a specific dedication, but nothing in life is about the end game. All of these things would still have occurred with just a little less stress on my part, and you better believe I wish I was still doing contract field jobs out in the middle of nowhere. You can’t always be serious. And you shouldn’t be! In a serious field that can involve a lot of pressure from grant applications, publication expectations, and research quality, it’s good to remember that it’s not actually work- it’s a passion.

Davis working hard

Making sure to take it easy from the pressure of the rat race with stress reduction techniques. Gotta keep that passion stoked for the long haul!

What are some inspirational materials you’ve used along the way?

I highly recommend that everyone interested in wildlife, natural resources, and any other field of biology read “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold. Leopold is considered the father of wildlife management. This text introduces the idea of the Land Ethic, which much of wildlife an natural resource management is based on. It’s not a dry text- it’s an easy read that connects you to nature through stories of skunks, the beauty of melting snow, and the complexity of songbird breeding season. Every outdoor enthusiast should read this book.

I also get a lot of emails from high school-age students seeking advice on how to get involved in the field of wildlife biology, and one of the tools I suggest is the Texas A&M University wildlife job board. This source posts research positions, internships, and education opportunities for all skill levels across the country and is a great way to fine-tune your goals. If you find a job that sounds interesting, you can review the qualifications needed for that position and work towards meeting specific goals.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The best advice I can give to those interested in a career in wildlife biology is to get involved ASAP. So many students think that good grades are the best way to get a job, but that just isn’t true. Good grades are essential, but so are real-world skills and experiences. Getting involved with research early is so important, as field skills and familiarity with the scientific process determine your eligibility for those cool jobs. Going to research conferences, being active in your wildlife society, and building relationships are also important in this field. Lastly, most wildlife biologists study many taxa instead of just one species-this field is about ecosystem/ habitat management and conservation, which means you focus on many different areas. That’s what makes it so fun!

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I’m so excited and thankful to be interviewed by Woman Scientist! Women in science fields form a really tight knit group, and I’m proud to be in a career that is supportive as well as full of brilliant, kind, and funny humans.

Thank you Imogene!

Want more photos? Check out the album on the Woman Scientist Facebook page.

And be sure to follow her:



image1 (1)

Imogene recently received the 2016 Clarence Cottam Award at the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s annual conference for presenting her work on the importance of spatial scale in landscape-mediated genetic structure. Her talk was titled, “Scale-dependent landscape genetics of bobcats across western Texas.” This award is given to recognize and promote outstanding student research.

Imogene recently started research at University of Delaware, in collaboration with Panthera, to complete PhD research on snow leopards.

Updated September 10, 2016

Congratulations and keep up the good work!

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What Do Reptiles, Ebola, Bikes, Microbes, and Epidemiology Have in Common? Karlyn Beer!

When I met Karlyn Beer she was a graduate student in the University of Washington’s Molecular and Cellular Biology program working at the Institute for Systems Biology under Dr. Nitin Baliga. She was studying how microorganisms respond to environmental change, using the salt-loving extremophile model organism Halobacterium salinarum.   This work mostly kept her in the lab running copious growth experiments, and learning computer programming and modeling, but she also managed to venture out into the field, to the Halo hot spot: Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

The north arm of the Great Salt Lake is purple/red due to the abundance of Halobacterium living in the water. Source: Wikipedia

The north arm of the Great Salt Lake is purple/red due to the abundance of Halobacterium living in the hyper saline water. Image source: Wikipedia

Within the five short years I have known Karlyn, she has completed her graduate degrees, earning an MS in Epidemiology with her thesis focusing on unique gut microbial communities associated with fiber and starch intake in healthy premenopausal womenand a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology with dissertation work focusing on Phenotypic and genomic stability in a halophilic model organism.

Karlyn sampling microorganisms from the hypersaline Great Salt Lake.

Immediately after earning her PhD, she traveled the world for eight months on a Bonderman Travel Fellowship mostly using a bicycle to explore ten countries spanning three different continents. Karlyn has always been interested in public health and epidemiology in developing countries and this was an excellent opportunity for her to supplement and enrich her academic public health education by visiting people and places where infectious disease is much more prevalent and less easily managed than in the US. She visited, in order: Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India and Turkey.


Not only that, upon returning to the US she landed a job as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and was sent to Liberia, West Africa to provide Ebola technical assistance to the Ministry of Health and county health officials during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. She now resides in Atlanta, Georgia with the CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch.

KBeer_Liberia_2014 078

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This is just a short synopsis of the life and work I’ve witnessed her do during the time I have known her.  Its impressive to say the least and this Woman Scientist has a lot of excellent reflection and advice to give to us all in her interview:

Let the Interview Begin!

1. What is your earliest memory of being hooked by science?

​I’m not sure I was ever aware of something called “science” that hooked me, but I think I was always curious and always interested in knowing new things.  I picked up all the bugs, I brought frogs and toads inside to the dinner table and one time I got a book of science experiments from the library. ​Also, I licked a pole in the middle of winter in Minnesota and my tongue got stuck…that was a hard lesson about phases of mat ter. I got hooked on public health after reading The Hot Zone by Richard Preston and Living Terrors by Michael Osterholm.


2.   Who inspired you to go down the path of science?

​It was a combination of people and experiences that probably led to my signing up for a biology major as an undergraduate.   My biology teacher in high school was a quirky, enigmatic guy and I loved how he taught us about life in terms of systems and interrelationships. About the same time my mind was being blown in biology class,​ I learned about Mad Cow Disease and started reading books about all kinds of pathogens and infectious disease. At one point in high school, my parents suggested I call my state epidemiologist to learn what it might be like to be a disease detective as a career. Dr. Mike Osterholm kindly talked with me about his work, and made a comment that I took to heart: He told me that public health needed more epidemiologists who were also scientists, who understood the biology behind the disease. I thought that sounded pretty exciting so I decided to study microbiology as an undergraduate at Cornell, and my research mentor there inspired me to pursue a PhD after graduating.

Crotch Rocket the cow calf.

Research barn calf. Don’t worry, this one doesn’t have Mad Cow Disease, although I’m sure Karlyn is thinking about infectious diseases regardless.

3.  What type of science do you love to read about?

​I sign up for all sorts of science-related email lists and table of contents updates from journals.  I tend to look for public health and disease-related literature, but I can never pass up a story about reptiles or nutrition or the gut microbiome.  My favorite science book I’ve read lately is Spillover, by David Quammen… it’s all about zoonotic diseases that have been transmitted to humans at some point in history, or might at some point in the future.  HIV, Ebola, and even Malaria have zoonotic parts of their natural histories! ​


4.  What kind of scientist do you consider yourself?

​I’d like to think I’m a big mix of many kinds of scientists, and I love that I have been able to do so many different things so far. I’ve worked as an ecologist, a microbiologist, a molecular biologist, an animal nutrition scientist, an epidemiologist, a data scientist, a field biologist and a very amateur herpetologist. I think there are incredible overlaps among all of these. So much overlap that we might be better off if we didn’t define different kinds of science so rigidly. Maybe that’s why I love public health…it’s an amazing mixture of many kinds of scientists, all working together toward a common goal.

5.  What were some preconceived notions about science or scientists and did that change once you explored your career in it?

​​When I was a kid, my idea of a PhD scientist was someone who wrote a book about something that no one else knew about.  I quickly wrote off the idea of a PhD, because I figured that by the time I got old enough, there would be nothing left that was unknown to even write about.  Once I actually grew up, I realized how much there is to learn, and that we definitely don’t know as much as I’d thought as a kid.  There are so many unanswered questions, and the trick is to find someone to pay you to answer the ones you like the best. ​​

6. What were some big compromises or struggles you experienced?

​I think the biggest compromises and conflicts came when I started my PhD and realized that my idea of the perfect project, supervisor and lifestyle did not all come in one package. When I started grad school, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to study and that nothing else mattered. I just knew I would find the perfect project in the perfect lab with the perfect advisor! Of course, this was ridiculous.  In reality, the colleagues and supervisors you work with are tons more important than the particular project you’re working on. Grad school is a time for gathering tools and skills through apprenticeship with good scientists, and your toolbox and colleagues are much more important and far-reaching than the title of your dissertation. In fact, I wasn’t asked about my dissertation work at all during my first job interview following my PhD.

After  graduate school, I had to start coming to terms with the time and money I had spent on my education.  It has all been worth every moment and every penny, but becoming a scientist means a big sacrifice in earning potential and income during the years you’re in school.  I learned that its OK to consider this aspect as you craft your education and your career. I’m happy with my decisions, but nothing spells reality like a student loan payment half as big as your rent check! 


7.  What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling the drudgery? What keeps science FUN for you?

​Like any job, science can get boring and frustrating. Realistically, you’re not accomplishing something good for the world every single day but I stay excited and motivated by focusing on the end goals…whether its a paper, or a talk, or someone else’s project I helped to improve. Teaching others and helping with colleagues’ projects is incredibly motivating too.

8.  Who do you aspire to be like?

My science hero is Rita Colwell. I’ve never met her, but her work on Vibrio has spanned from the basic science of pathogenesis to practical solutions for fighting Cholera in Bangladesh. She is an accomplished scientist who has embraced the world of policy and advocacy alongside her work as a biologist.  It’s simple to sit in an ivory tower and publish papers, but to me, science belongs in the service of action and scientists should not shy away from policy and advocacy when their results lead them there.


Dr. Rita Colwell in the lab. Rita holds a B.S. in  Bacteriology, M.S. in Genetics and a PhD in Oceanography. She also served as 11th Director of the United States National Science Foundation for six years.

Outside of science, I aspire to be someone who is generous with their time and compassion for others. For me, a person named Monty Thomas embodies these qualities and sets an example for me every time I feel rushed, or too busy. Monty was director of psychosocial support at an HIV clinic in Durban, South Africa, and we met when I was an undergraduate study-abroad student in 2004. I was struggling setting up interviews with HIV support group members about their experience in the hospital’s choir. Monty was busy with a million things many times more important than me.  Still, he would answer his phone “Hi, this is Monty… how can I help?” and he would invite me into his office even as he was finishing a meeting with someone else. I did get to interview the support group members, and I learned so much more about public health because of him. I feel like I have a lot to pay forward, thanks to Monty and so many other mentors who have guided me along the way.

9.  Advice you’d tell young students; Some key points you wish you knew before you set out.

  • ​Find good mentors, science is always a collaborative effort.
  • Enjoy the journey/process just as much as the end results.
  • No one cares about your project more than you do, so own your work 100%.
  • It is possible to be a smart and respected person who often says, “I don’t know” .
  • ​Money doesn’t buy happiness, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need it and you don’t have to think about it. It follows that the earlier you think about it, the less you have to worry about it later.
  • In discussions, arguments and debates with others, there is always room for uncertainty. Rarely does anyone have enough information to truly analyze the issue at hand.  ​Embrace this uncertainty and approach discussions as a group effort to learn more, rather than an opportunity to prove people wrong.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously!
  • Don’t take too much advice from others​!!

10.  Any other information you want to highlight? 

​Science will give you the best friends anyone could ask for, and I don’t mean lab mice and petri plates! Science is a magnet for people who are excited about life and the world around them, and I’m glad to have had such an awesome group of colleagues for so long.

Just a couple of great colleagues

Just a couple of great colleagues


I don’t want this interview to end without also mentioning her non-scientific career endeavors. From a very young age, Karlyn has been in love with reptiles. Turtles, lizards, snakes, you name it. She once arrived at a Jungle-themed party wearing her pet snake around her neck! Talk about costume commitment.

Karlyn with her pet snake, Skeletor, at a jungle-themed party.

She is also an avid cyclist and has built her own bicycle. As you read, she traveled the world riding her bike as much as she could. She also commutes frequently via bike and she has even raced cyclocross.

cyclocross racing

cyclocross racing

Last little secret, if you happen to love folk contra dancing, you may see Karlyn dancing as well. She’s even been known to do a little calling!

Want to read more from Karlyn? Check out the travel blog she kept while on her journey’s with the Bonderman Fellowship.

Did you like this interview? Please share it with anyone you know who might find inspiration from Karlyn’s words.

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Jammin with Jellies – Interview with EvoDevo Biologist

One day Lauren came over for a dinner where the discussion had turned to nerdy science topics, as most dinners with curious people do. We had a giant spread of butcher paper over the kitchen table and we turned to Lauren and asked her to share something nerdy with us.

Little did we expect she would be armed and ready for us; Off she went capturing our attention with explanations of the biology and evolution of jellies.

I distinctly remember making a mental note that often times people call them jellyfish when in fact they should just be referred to as “jellies”. From that day on, I always call them by their proper term.

Lauren is incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about her marine invertebrates from jellies, to nautilus, to all the vast array of deep sea creatures. She contradicts all stereotypes of scientists being dull and boring, which you can see immediately by her bright red hair and refreshingly quirky style.  She is down to dress up and strut her stuff in every aspect of life blending friends, family, fun and science!

At the time of this posting Lauren is currently working her way through graduate school studying evolutionary marine biology.  I wanted to capture this time in her life as she continues to carve her niche in her career. She has great perspective and solid advice for those of us figuring out our way in the life sciences, so without further adieu, I give you Ms. Lauren Vandepas.

American Samoa, a few miles offshore. Taking pictures with a nautilus we caught before divers returned the nautilus to a depth about 70 feet and released it. We took tissue samples for DNA and RNA, weighed, measured, sexed, and x-rayed the nautiluses. Photo by Tom Tobin

1. What did you study during undergrad? Did you know at the time you wanted to study jellies and ctenophores?

I double majored in Biology and Marine Science at the University of Miami with a minor in Chemistry. Deep sea animals and ecosystems were especially fascinating (we didn’t talk about them nearly enough in my classes!). I always loved jellies and thought that ctenophores were the most alien things I’d ever seen. I was interested in how these awesome animals evolved, why deep sea critters look so strange, and how animals make their own light.

Ctenophore Bolinopsis infundibulum at Friday Harbor Laboratories, WA.

Developing tunicate tadpole larvae (Ciona) at the Misaki Marine Labs.

2. What type of job opportunities have you had over the years during college and after college?

When I was in college, I was eligible for a Federal Work-Study. That allowed me to get a paying job working in a coral research lab. The skills I learned there really helped with my job hunt after college. I graduated in 2008, when the economy was still “free-falling”, and I was living in a job market that was one of the hardest hit from the crash. It took me a year after graduating to find full time work in science. I was exploring research technician jobs at universities and colleges in my area, as well as looking into government jobs. I eventually got a position in a medical research lab. It initially bummed me out what I wasn’t able to find a job in marine science, but I learned so much by switching disciplines.

Doing something completely different allowed me to build on the skill set I had in genetic work and learn a ton of other techniques that I wouldn’t have necessarily been exposed to. My mentor, Dr. Suzy Bianco, was awesome and my time in her lab allowed me to become a stronger applicant for graduate school and a better scientist.

I was worried for a while that working in another field might reflect negatively on me down the road (not sticking with just one thing), but it turned out to be the opposite!

Paris – Scientists vacation sometimes! Photo by Diego Valdes.

Bit of an aside… A lot of people end up volunteering in labs to get research experience, and it’s really critical to have that experience under your belt (one year commitment is minimum to get a lot of skills down) when applying for jobs post-undergrad or for graduate studies (med school, etc). So to anyone hoping to go into life sciences as a career, I’d highly recommend joining a lab during undergrad to get some experience!

Lauren showing off Ctenophore wound healing assays at Friday Harbor Laboratories in the San Juan Islands.

Sonicating tissue at the Misaki Marine Labs

3. Where have your studies and work taken you?

One of the awesome things about science as a career in general, and marine science in particular, is that there’s a lot of opportunity for travel. It’s one of the rewards of the job! There’s data to collect, collaborators to visit, conferences to attend, courses to take. Many universities (and marine laboratories) offer graduate-level courses for specific disciplines. Because there’s such a large international network of scientists in any field, a lot of conferences rotate between countries.

Here are some of the places where my studies have brought me, whether for collecting samples, having the chance to learn from others, or attending conferences:

  • Bocas del Toro, Panama – I took a course on larval invertebrate (mostly plankton!) diversity, form and function at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Pago Pago, American Samoa – I got to join collaborators on an expedition to collect nautilus. We used the tissue we obtained on a project examining the relationships of separate nautilus populations
  • Eilat, Israel – The Coelenterate Biology meetings were held in Israel (“coelenterate” is a term that used to be more commonly used to describe comb jellies and cnidarians.).
  • Misaki, Japan – As part of the E. S. Morse Institute (a scholarly exchange between marine biologists at the University of Washington and University of Tokyo). I attended an invertebrate embryology course at the University of Tokyo’s marine labs.

Pago Pago, American Samoa

It’s been fantastic to be able to connect with and learn from scientists around the world, as well as see some amazing nature first hand (the Red Sea! the amazing diversity of Indo-Pacific coral reefs!).

4. What kind of scientist do you consider yourself?

Biology is a huge discipline! I think cases where scientists are completely encompassed in one field are pretty rare. Usually research is spread across several sub-disciplines and the science is under a few different headings simultaneously. Broadly, I would say I’m a marine biologist – I study marine invertebrates. But what do I study about them? I’m interested in why the life we see is so diverse in form and color. How did all of this biodiversity evolve? So I’m an evolutionary biologist, but the way I study evolution is to look at the development of different animal groups (which genes are involved, etc.).

Sharing research with other students at the Misaki Marine Labs

In the lab, x-ray of a live nautilus (the animals are unharmed during this process). Pago Pago, American Samoa

5. Did you have any preconceived notions about science, or scientists, and did that change once you explored your career in it or do some of them remain?

Originally, I thought there would be a lot more outdoor exposure. It turns out field work makes up a small amount of the actual time I spend doing science. A majority of the efforts are actually spent analyzing the samples or data collected in the field. Also, you get very, very attached to your set of pipettes.

One great thing about marine biology, and something that was always attractive to me, was that I didn’t associate working in this field with the (often negative) stereotypical image of a stuffy scientist in a lab coat working in a stuffy acrid-smelling lab. Although, I did make the lab smell pretty awful just the other day when I was working with chemicals. I mean, does β-Mercaptoethanol have any olfactory equivalent? Smelly chemicals aside, I’ve come to discover that science is not stuffy.

Tidepooling at the Misaki Marine Labs.

Live crinoid! Misaki Marine Labs.

6. What led you to get a higher degree? How did you decide between staying at a Bachelor’s vs getting a Masters, or PhD?

I really wanted to be a scientist, as my career. I wanted to do research in marine science and after talking to people in the field and exploring job postings online, realized that to be able to have the career I wanted, I’d need a PhD.

Snorkeling in American Samoa. Photo by Tom Tobin

7. What were/are some big compromises or struggles you’ve experienced trying to make a career for yourself in the science world?

One of the biggest struggles that I’ve faced and witnessed friends deal with is balancing a career in science while still paying attention to other aspects of life (family, hobbies, friends). There’s a perception that if you’re going to be a successful scientist, you have to work 80 hours per week, to the detriment of spouses, family, health…

It seems like that paradigm may be slowly changing and that there’s a pretty recent, more active, conversation about work-life balance. There are many articles on the subject by people who are way more eloquent than I! I think that’s probably the largest functional challenge I have made or will have to make.

It’s something that I’m still struggling with and thinking about as I look to what my career might be like after I finish my PhD. Doing research is so satisfying, challenging, fun, and often dirty/salty/muddy (in short, awesome), and I’m not sure I’d be happy in another field. However, I don’t want the work to make up 100% of my day-to-day either. Everyone deals with it differently and I haven’t figured out what the best path forward for me would be yet.

Chilling next to a whale vertebra, Misaki Marine Labs

8. Did you get hooked by science immediately or was in more of a natural progression?

I grew up in South Florida and we have some awesome nature there. Coral reefs! The Everglades! Mangroves!

Spending time in this environment and exploring was such a joyful and comforting experience that I wanted to figure out a way to be around and think about the ocean all the time. I took advanced science classes whenever I could in school and was fortunate enough to have parents and family who signed me up for marine biology summer camps or took me to the beach, or snorkeling, or tide-pooling. I’ve always wanted to remain immersed in this field, and if I can even get paid to do it, hot damn!

Snorkeling in American Samoa. Photo by Tom Tobin

9. What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling the drudgery? What keeps science FUN for you?

I go outside! I head to the rocky intertidal here in Seattle, or make a point to go snorkeling when I visit my family in Florida.

Volunteering and outreach really keeps things fun, too. Working with kids and the public, I remember why I’m so jazzed about plankton and volcanoes and all things science. I get re-energized showing others how awesome our world is. Having a 2nd grader exclaim, “THAT’S SO COOL!” at a big green isopod you just handed them is a real pick-me-up.



bluefish Upper: Sorting fish caught in a trawl on the R/V Centennial. Friday Harbor Laboratories, WAl; Lower: Snorkeling in American Samoa

10. Advice you would tell youngsters; Some key points you wish you knew before you set out.

This is going to sound hugely cliché, but… do what makes you happy. If science classes are your favorite, keep at it! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too hard or there’s MATH or that you have to have perfect standardized test scores. There are a lot of opportunities out there at any level (bachelor’s degrees, PhDs, whatever!) to do what makes you happy.

No one goes into this field for the money, it’s not exactly the most well paying gig, but I do science because I love it and wouldn’t be as satisfied with any other career.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. – Les Brown

Want more?
Make sure you check out more photos from Lauren’s scientific adventures in the Woman Scientist  Facebook album.

All photos courtesy of Lauren Vandepas.

(Featured Image Thumbnail: Selfie with a turtle at the aquarium in Eilat, Israel)
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Nothing Fishy Here — Interview with a Wildlife Conservationist


Samantha amidst a field of carcasses in Cordova, Alaska. Prince William Sound Science Center Wild-Hatchery Salmon Project. Photo by Kate Ruck

Samantha amidst a field of carcasses in Cordova, Alaska. Prince William Sound Science Center Wild-Hatchery Salmon Project. Photo by Kate Ruck

Meet Samantha Goebel: hiker enthusiast, wildlife field biologist, and self proclaimed fish geek.

Her love for the outdoors and willingness to travel has allowed her to work during and post college in a variety of locations ranging from North Dakota to Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. During her undergraduate, she spent time as an intern at Shenandoah National Park participating with a fish monitoring project conducting electrofishing sampling surveys, collecting morphological data, and assessing riparian stream habitats.  Immediately after graduation, she flew to North Dakota to begin her first field technician position working with the USGS on a study looking at the impact of oil activity on prairie bird distributions. This summer, Samantha is heading back out for her second field season with the Prince William Sound Science Center’s Hatchery-Wild Salmon Research Project in Cordova, Alaska. To bridge her time in  between jobs, Samantha works at an outdoor gear and apparel company where she gleans the thoughts of similarly minded outdoor junkies.

She doesn’t stop there! Next summer, she has grand plans to hike the Appalachian Trail and she eventually plans to return to school to complete a graduate degree in Fisheries Science.

Samantha has some great stories and great advice for those who wish to follow in similar footsteps. Let’s find out what she has to say!


Brown Bear Tracks photo credit: Samantha Goebel


What was your Bachelor’s degree in and at what point in life did you know what you wanted to do?

For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a scientist. As a child I was drawn to marine science. During family trips to the Outerbanks and the Chesapeake Bay, I enjoyed listening to environmental educators talk about protecting our waterways from pollution and liter. Marine life, especially dolphins, fascinated me.


When beginning college, I was torn between art and science. During high school I found art as an outlet. I highly respect professional artists but it was a hobby for me not a career. Naturally, I followed the path of science. I began college with an emphasis in Environmental Science at New England College. My sophomore year, I decided to transfer to Juniata College, another small liberal arts school with extremely strong academics. At Juniata College, I changed my major to Wildlife Conservation. I was not interested in working an office job and most Environmental Science majors become consultants, lawyers, or engineers. I wanted to be in the field researching and implementing conservation strategies. I graduated from Juniata College in May 2014 with an emphasis in Wildlife Conservation.

Orca Whale. Photo credit: Samantha Goebel


What type of related job opportunities have you had over the years during and post college? Were they difficult to find? How did you decide which ones to go after?

I had a variety of seasonal field technician positions mostly related to bird and fish research. A field technician is a researcher who collects data to be analyzed by the head biologist of a larger agency. A bachelor degree in a related field of science is require for most technician positions.

Searching for technician positions is fairly easy but the jobs are extremely competitive as they receive many applicants. The best search engine I have used is the Texas A&M Job Board. I found that applying to as many jobs that interest you is the best strategy to ensure you have a summer field position, especially for your first job. My first job out of college, I found on the Texas A&M Job Board. After applying to about thirty positions I landed a job working with USGS as a prairie bird research technician in North Dakota. Be persistent and apply to as many jobs that you can. Once you have some experience under your belt, you become more competitive in the job market and job hunting becomes easier.

The second most important way to obtain a job is by maintaining connections. Three jobs I obtained by having connections with professors and friends who informed me about job openings. My first internship during college was at Shenandoah National Park as a fisheries monitoring and management intern. The position was advertised on USAJOBS and SCA job boards but I missed the posting. I heard about the position through a friend and called to see if there was still an opening. Sure enough, they had a person bail last minute and I was hired. USAJOBS is a great resource for government positions. SCA is a good resource for summer internships. Also, stay in contact with your professors. Through my connections with my professor, I was able to volunteer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and work as a fisheries technician in Alaska. Maintain your connections and job opportunities will open up to you.

Lastly, be willing to travel. I never thought I would end up in North Dakota but it was a great experience to work with USGS. I have worked in North Dakota, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In this career field, you have the opportunity to travel and see places most people never see in their lifetime.

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Working on an Eastern Wild Turkey research project with Pennsylvania Game Commission. Photo Credit: Talia Valencia and Rex


Did you have any preconceived notions about science, or scientists, and has that changed once you explored your career in it? 

I had a preconceived notion that scientists spent a majority of their time in the field researching but that is not true. A full time biologist spends the majority of their time analyzing data in the lab, writing research papers and completing paperwork. The field technicians do the majority of the field work and collecting data.


Collecting every crucial piece of data. Photo by DJanka www.auklet.com


What kind of scientist do you consider yourself?

I consider myself a seasonal field technician. I take seasonal full-time research positions and collect data for biologists who work for government and/or private agencies. I enjoy what I do because I like to get outside and collect data for research projects that have important implications to future conservation and management plans.

Electrofishing riparian streams in Shenandoah National Park for the fish monitoring internship. Photo Credit: Matt Lippy

You said you eventually want to get a graduate degree in Fisheries Science. What do you personally see as the pros and cons of either staying in the work force or getting a higher academic degree like a masters or PhD immediately? What were your reasons for not going directly into a graduate program? 

I have discovered that a graduate degree is necessary to obtain permanent positions in the career field today. I did not go into a graduate program immediately after graduating college because I wanted to explore my career field more. I wanted to gain a better understanding of what I would like to focus my research on. A bachelors degree in Wildlife Conservation gives a person the opportunity to focus on many fields including: botany, fisheries, birds, reptiles, mammals, and more. When graduating from Juniata College, I thought I wanted to study birds. However, after working a few bird-related jobs, I have decided that is not the path for me. Then I thought about working with fish. After working a few field jobs with fish, I believe this is the path I want to follow for graduate school. I really enjoy the high activity involved with fish research and the many implications to fisheries management. I am not in a rush to go to graduate school. I want to spend the next two years traveling and working field positions across the nation. Plus I plan on hiking the Appalachian trail next summer. My current plan is begin applying for graduate programs in 2016 after hiking the Appalachian trail.

Hogan Bay. Photo credit: Samantha Goebel


Have you had to make any big compromises or had struggles trying to make a career for yourself in the science world?

Yes, I believe every scientist struggles with balancing personal life and career life. Post-graduation I immediately flew to North Dakota and started working for USGS as a prairie bird technician. I had three days to move out of my off-campus house, take all my things home, visit family, and pack for North Dakota. I worked in North Dakota from May to July.

After completing the job, I was offered another position in Alaska working for Prince William Sound and Science Center. I had two weeks to book flights, fly home, unpack from North Dakota, pack for Alaska, visit family in Virginia, visit my boyfriend in Pennsylvania, and fly to Alaska. I worked in Alaska as a fisheries technician seven days a week from July to September with limited internet and phone connection. I was able to use my phone once a day for about five minutes. This was stressful for my family and my boyfriend because they would rarely hear from me and would never know when I was going to call.

After finishing the job in Alaska, I took some personal time to visit my cousin in California and I took a trip to Sicily with my family. I traveled until the end of October and I had not visited my boyfriend much. In November, I was offered a job with an observing company to work as a scientist aboard a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. I badly want to take the position but this would mean being away from my family and my boyfriend for another three months with limited phone connection. I knew my relationships would suffer so I declined the position and moved to Pennsylvania to be close to my boyfriend. Currently, I am working at an outdoor retail store in State College called Appalachian Outdoors. Yes I would rather be working on the Bering Sea but sometimes in the field of science you have to make sacrifices to maintain your relationships. There will always be positions available once I have enjoyed some time at home.

It’s the small things that keep life fun. Photo credit: Alex Witter


Who inspired (or currently inspires) you to go down the path of science? 

My parents were my largest inspiration. Growing up we spent most of our free time outdoors hiking, biking, skiing, and kayaking. They took me to environmental education programs for kids where I listened to different science talks. I was encouraged as a young child to protect our environment and respect nature. My passion for the outdoors nourished a passion for science. My parents encouraged me to do what makes me happy. They always said, “Money does not pay for happiness”. They supported my decisions to study science at the college of my choosing. I didn’t make the right decision at first. But I found my path along the way and I am a proud alumni of Juniata College.


Growing up in the outdoors: Me as a little girl at Shenandoah River Outfitters, my family’s canoe company in Luray, VA. Photo credit: Andrea Goebel


Who do you aspire to be like? 

I aspire to be me. I aspire to live a life that inspires others, to accomplish impossible things, and to achieve many goals.

Galapagos Tortoise. Photo credit: Ashley Foguel


What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling the drudgery? What keeps science FUN for you? 

Good humor keeps me motivated. Sometimes the sky will unleash a terrible storm but you must work on to collect the data. I simply make light of the difficult situation and remember that I am doing this to make a difference. I am working towards a goal to preserve wildlife for future generations; each project has an important goal and it is my job to achieve that goal.

Strictly for bear protection. Photo Credit: Kate Ruck


Advice you would tell youngsters (high school/college age); Some key points you wish you knew or that you keep in mind as you go forward in your career. 

I would recommend youngsters in any career to try and gain career-related experience through volunteer opportunities or internships before graduating college. Also, I recommend them to maintain good connections and to apply to any job that interests them even if they do not think their qualified. Do not get discouraged, just keep applying to as many jobs as possible and the hard work will pay off.

Starfish Stomach. Photo credit: Samantha Goebel


What is your favorite job thus far?

My favorite job was working for Prince William Sound Science Center in Alaska. Not many women would be willing to jump aboard a vessel to collect bone and tissue samples from rotting salmon carcasses. But the job absolutely fascinated me. I enjoyed hiking through wild salmon streams where I had more contact with fish than people. Further, I was excited to work on a project of such importance. The results of this project will help determine whether more hatcheries are built in Prince William Sound, affecting the local economy and fisheries management strategies. If you would like to read more about my time in Alaska or other travels visit my blog.  I will be returning to Alaska this summer and I will continue to blog about my journeys.

Me holding rotting chum salmon, YUM! photo credit: Kate Ruck

Check out more stories on Samantha’s personal blog!

Interested in finding jobs like Samantha’s? Check out this Career Resource.

See more photos in this album. All photos courtesy of Samantha Goebel. 

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Biology, Art, and Technology – Interview with Allison Kudla

Allison Kudla has an unconventional career: she has mastered a creative solution to work at the interface of three disciplines: biology, art, and technology.

We first met when she joined the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) as an artist to make our work look as gorgeous visually as it was scientifically. I was amazed with her portfolio, and watched in fascination as she made changes to ISB’s graphic designs. She is certainly a talented artist, and incorporated so much technology and science into her work that she had me confused as to whether she was an engineer or a biologist! I had never imagined a job position like hers before. Naturally, I needed to understand more.

 Allison didn’t set off early in her career knowing she would, or even could, blend all three disciplines. She pursued one interest at a time–art being the catalyst–and with each step in the journey more and more was revealed to her. She took on new ideas and new concepts along the way, working them into her ideal framework, and created a space for herself that incorporated her vision for her career. Her journey is not over; She still strives to reach that perfect ideal blend where all of her talents and education can be used.  It just goes to show that you can create and accomplish amazing things during your hunt for the elusive career unicorn without getting discouraged that you haven’t yet “arrived”.

Allison’s career creativity is an example we can all follow. I hope you enjoy reading her interview below.


1. Were you first in to art, science or technology? Or were you in to all three at the same time?

I would say art first. In high school I set a goal of creating a portfolio of work that would get me into an art school. Indeed, I was accepted into a few and decided on the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). While there, in my second year, taking a class on Conceptual Painting at the same time as a class on Digital Tools for Painting, I really began questioning why my medium was painting. My concepts were perhaps better conveyed with new media / digital media. From there, I switched to the Art and Technologies Studies program at SAIC and began working with interactive platforms such as: physical computing (sensors and micro-controllers), sound synthesis and graphic programming. I was so excited to be making works that were driven by data taken from the external world. When I finished my BFA, I felt I had only begun this work. After a short time, I was accepted into the first waive of a new practice-based PhD program in the arts at the University of Washington’s newly established Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). Here I was challenged again to question my medium, and my knowledge of the systems I use in my work, and there I began exploring the life sciences. This is where biology has its first direct emergence in my artistic work.


2. What led you into art and how did it evolve over time? Did you start out using a certain media and then evolve your preferences from there until you found your niche?

I suppose I am sponge, meaning if it is available to me as a medium, and I am interested in working with it, I soak it in and start using it! It wasn’t until I came to the arts as a graduate student at a research university (UW) that I realized that my medium could involve a greenhouse or a tissue culturing lab just as much as it did a fabrication studio, a machine shop, or a computer lab. I tried to be as imaginative as I could and really think in an interdisciplinary way to solve creative challenges and create visual art.

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3. Can you remember your first art project that was at the interface of three disciplines: science, technology, and art?

Definitely. It is called “The Search for Luminosity”. It was a system that watched the circadian rhythm of the Oxalis plant and enabled it to control its light source. Oxalis is phototropic and has very broad and large leaves that seem to “open” and “close” when it is attempting photosynthesis. Because the opening and closing gesture is based on a bio-chemical memory of the plant’s previous routine or cycle, even in darkness the plant will lift its leaves. For this reason, I was able to create a robotic system that watched for the plant to lift its leaves, and when it did, it would turn its overhead light on.  In short, a poetic framing for reversing the hierarchy of the biological and the physical world, The Search for Luminosity equips the phototropic plant Oxalis with the ability to communicate directly with the acting sun in its universe through the mediation of a technological system.

kudla luminosity2Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 10.10.40 PM

4. When did you realize, or decide, you could blend all those fields into a successful career? Did you have any idea at first that you’d end up using your artistry in the science world?

I didn’t have an idea. It really happened gradually and in part due to the people around me.

5. Who inspired you  to investigate a path involving science and technology? What hooked you onto the sciences and technologies?

Shawn Brixey, my PhD advisor. Check out his work, it is so rad! He asked me a deceptively simple question:

“In art, what is the difference between simulation and emulation?”

This question prompted me to explore what the “operating system” for my work was. I realized that instead of it being Mac OS X drawing a picture to a screen of a representation of a plant or botanical form, I wanted to learn the operating system of the botanical form itself. I wanted to know what algorithms were running on biological systems, and to know this, one has to study biology.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 10.16.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-23 at 10.31.24 PM

6. Do you have a favorite type of science?

Accessible, breakthrough science that I haven’t heard about before! I am a visual person too, so I really love it when the sciences discover something that can be imaged or visualized in a way that is beautiful. I am really looking forward to seeing data visualizations over the next 10 years and hope to be a part of that work.

I am also fascinated by science that studies how species have evolved to adapt to climate change. I think we can learn a lot from organisms with faster evolutionary cycles and therefore shorter life spans.


Credit: Dr. Allison Kudla, Institute for Systems Biology, illustration featured on U.S. NIH website for The Cancer Genome Atlas Project.

7. What were some preconceived notions about art, artists, science or scientists and did that change once you explored your career in it?

 I think when I was younger, I thought scientists were not imaginative. I really don’t know why I thought that because the more scientists I interact with, the harder it can be to tell them apart from artists. 🙂


8. What were some big compromises or struggles you experienced making a career out of this? Did you have any roadblocks (mental, emotional, physical) or did you feel supported along the way?

This is a really hard question. I have had a lot of support and interest, but I have also faced some serious challenges. If you think science is under funded in America, check out art! And if your art is living and temporal, something to be “experienced” but not necessarily bought and sold, then it can be even harder!! I still wonder if I will ever have a salaried job that takes advantage of every aspect of my education. At the same time, I think it is my responsibility to blaze this trail for others like myself — and it will take decades, likely. There are so many art residencies, but these opportunities force artists into being nomadic — moving from place to place every four months or year without knowing what the next year or two will look like or where they will be. This adds to the stress and struggle, and also can severely limit an artist’s ability to work on projects that are longer term, or involving science and technology. As you’ve heard before “science is slow” and so is art + science research.

9. What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling the drudgery? Do you ever hate it? What keeps it fun for you?

Any long process that involves precision, technique, conceptual robustness and creativity is going to involve drudgery. I think I hate it most when I am not sure if it will be a success, or I try to explain it to someone else and I don’t see any sparkle in their eye. Then I have to just hope it was a failure in my words and they will get it when they experience the work. 

Working with other people keeps it fun. Being in a feedback loop with the finished product keeps it fun. Having a plan as to where it will be presented also keeps it fun.

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10. Who are some personally inspirational people in this field?

There are so many. First three that I hadn’t already mentioned: Natalie Jeremijenko, Daisy Ginsberg, and Paul Vanouse.

nataliedaisy  paul

11. What are some key points of advice you wish you knew before you set out?

Geometry is incredibly important in art and visualization. And in general Math is a universal language and key to understanding operating systems in biology, computation and technology. It’s okay if you forget formulas because the internet can help you. However, understanding the concepts are essential for success. If something isn’t making sense in class, talk to your peers and mentors. There may be other angles you need to see some of these concepts from in order to understand them better.

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Conservation Field Biologist — Interview with Annie Hawkinson


Photo courtesy of Tambopata Macaw Project Facebook Page

I met Annie while volunteering at the Tambopata Research Center in the Amazon jungles of Peru and was to be her roommate for the duration of my stay.

I was worried that I’d be cramping her style by moving in to the room she had enjoyed by herself but she immediately helped get me set up.

Every morning the alarm went off at 4:30am, just before the howler monkeys started up their thunderous wind-storm-like territorial roars.

We would lie motionless in our mosquito-net-enshrouded beds listening for rain. If there was no rain, or just a drizzle, we had to get up and get to the boats to start the days work.

One morning, it had been down pouring on and off up until the alarm. The alarm went off and we listened for the boss, Gustavo’s voice indicating if we had to get up to work or not. We were tired and secretly hoped we could go back to bed and sleep in until 7:30am breakfast.

“Andele!”  Gustavo says its a go. Time go get up!

Annie grumbled and started crawling out of her mosquito net.

I didn’t want to get up either, so I put on my sarcastic happy voice and in an overly chipper tone said, “But Annie, isn’t it fun to be out in nature?!”

“I hatechoo…” she sleepy mumbled in an unenthused response.

It was that moment I knew Annie and I would get along great. She is also the perfect young aspiring woman scientist to interview, so let’s begin:


What type of science do you love (if you could categorize the topic e.g., psychology, neurobiology, conservation, wildlife, chemistry, molecular, physiological, etc.)?
I have always loved working with animals and working outside. I really enjoy learning how something fits into it’s environment. Over the years that has lead me to pursue a lot of macrobiology, and I particularly love studying evolution and conservation biology.

Annie Hawkinson: Head full of blonde curls. No shortage of hairdressers here!

What kind of scientist do you consider yourself?
I consider myself to be a field biologist, because the greatest skill I have developed working in the Amazon is how to deal with a demanding environment. The elements have me at their mercy! For example, at 5:00 in the morning I found myself shoveling mud off an observational site that had been buried from the flooding river.
annie shovel mud
What is your earliest memory of being hooked by science? 
I would say when I got to dissect a shark in 4th grade science class. Being from Minnesota, the ocean is pretty far away and as a kid it seems impossibly far. I think my teacher showed me that it was possible to study something foreign at a really close range and it opened my world.
Who inspired you to go down the path of science? 
Indirectly, my parents. They have encouraged me to do whatever makes me happy and since I have always been an animal lover I ended up pursuing biology.
What were some preconceived notions about science or scientists and did that change once you explored your career in it?
I sometimes got intimidated by the belief that “real” scientists have some natural ability making them experts in their work. In reality, although having an intrinsic passion for ones field is beneficial, it takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and time to be successful in the science community.
annie tree
What have been some big compromises or struggles you’ve experienced?
The hardest thing I had to do was accept that this once in a lifetime opportunity I was being offered might end my current relationship. Being in such a remote part of the world for months at a time (with slow and unpredictable internet) has often strained my relationship with my boyfriend, and in general I often feel disconnected from the lives of the people I care about. Thankfully those important people in my life are incredibly supportive, and just a month ago my boyfriend and family came to visit me! They were able to see what I do everyday and why it means so much to me- why I left them! I’m grateful for them in so many ways.
What keeps science FUN for you when you’re feeling the drudgery? Do you ever hate it? 
There’s no doubt that it’s challenging working at Tambopata Research Center. The team can go for months without any days off, doing physically demanding work, and sometimes it is absolutely exhausting. I have learned the importance of taking breaks, but when a siesta doesn’t do the trick, I have to remind myself where I am- that I live in one of the last untouched environments on earth. It may take a long time before I truly appreciate the significance of that, but while I can, I think it’s crucial to believe that our work is contributing to the conservation of tambopata. No matter what though, if I’m having a bad day, all I need is to see one if the macaw chicks.

Scarlet Macaw Baby

Do you have any advice you’d tell youngsters? Some key points you wish you knew before you set out?
My advice for anyone interested in working in the field is prepare to fail! I found it really stressful not being able to do everything perfectly when I first started facing setbacks from weather and other complications. Those experiences taught me that failure will happen and all you can do when it does is learn and move on.
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Bi-Polar Explorer — From Antarctica to the Arctic — Interview with Kate Ruck

Her name is Kate Ruck.


An Alaskan friend of mine told me that he had an Alaskan friend who I needed to meet. I love collecting Alaskan friends, so I told him to let her know she’s welcome to come by my house in Seattle anytime!

The day I met her I happened to be throwing a costume party after my 2013 return from Antarctica and I was showing everyone photos on my laptop. After I gave my shpeel I turned around and there was Kate Ruck standing quietly in the door frame. Xtratuf boots and long brown wavy hair framing her big bright eyes.

Instantly I knew who she was and I gave her a huge hug while also feeling completely embarrassed that this Antarctica-Traveling Queen had just listened in on my amateur brag about my travels to The Ice!!


The very evening that I first met Kate Ruck.

Kate travels a lot for work/school.

She is gone multiple months out of the year but always returns to Seattle. She was traveling to Antarctica via icebreaker, obtaining her Master’s Degree at Virginia Institute of Marine Science doing work for the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (Pal LTER) project and US Antarctic Program.

This work resulted in her first-author publication: Regional differences in quality of krill and fish as prey along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Kate E. Ruck, Deborah K. Steinberg, Elizabeth A. Canuel.


Every time she is in Seattle we hang out and it’s been a friendship going on strong for two years now.

Kate is the definition of badass. She sails with salty sailors, lives out of a suitcase, wields a gun, bosses people around, siences the shit out of everything, hangs out with slimey fish, travels to Antarctica and gets a kick out of animals being dicks. I mean, who doesn’t, right?!

I thought she’d be perfect to interview. For obvious reasons.


Let the interview begin.

  1. What type of science do you love (if you could categorize the topic e.g., psychology, neurobiology, conservation, wildlife, chemistry, molecular science, physiological, etc.)?

Throughout my career, I have been consistently drawn to Marine Science, more specifically, Biological Oceanography and Fisheries Science. My early experiences in the field were overwhelmingly positive and engaging and I fell in love with all aspects of going out to sea and working on the ocean. Stepping out onto the deck of a boat to have a sea-bound horizon stretching in every direction cultivated an inexplicable sense of home for me and I felt compelled to delve deeper into the science behind my fieldwork. Our oceans are such a large, global resource that are highly utilized and still have not been fully explored or regulated. When I was beginning my career this field seemed ripe with opportunities for meaningful contributions while still providing an outlet to advocate for something that I valued and was passionate about.


  1. What kind of scientist do you consider yourself?

For the last two years I’ve been making my living as a contract field-biologist, meaning I take short-term seasonal positions working for different research groups as needed. This has been great in terms of travel, experience and getting my feet under me financially, but I am beginning to miss the ability to contribute to the broader impact goals of an established research project. It’s hard to invest two to three months of your life in an assignment you’re passionate about, only to say farewell it when the field season comes to an end.  In the broader brush, I’ve lately become very interested in education and outreach. Informing the general public about environmental issues such as climate change, conservation, and our global oceans.


  1. What is your earliest memory of being hooked by science?

Oddly enough, I remember being captivated by ‘Alba’, the glowing rabbit that was engineered in France by splicing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) of a jellyfish into her genome. It was the early 2000’s, I was just starting high school and thinking about college when genetics and molecular science topics began big in the news. I remember being fascinated by what was possible within the confines of the lab and was delving into books and documentaries on the topic. As I transitioned into college, I moved away from molecular biology because of the political and commercial interests that were starting to invade the field and the amount of competition that was associated with such a rapidly growing and hugely profitable industry. I had always wanted a workplace that was inclusive and highly collaborative. Ecology and marine science seemed like a better fit and my early field experiences got me hooked on the opportunities to be outdoors and immersed in the ecosystems I was studying. katedeck

  1. Who inspired you to go down the path of science?

A long string of incredibly engaging, charismatic, and supportive teachers kept me on the road to a career in science. Listening to lectures and taking labs from people who were so passionate about their profession instilled a love for the natural world that I felt could be the base of a career, rather than a hobby. I also have to give credit to my parents for encouraging me in what I was interested in rather than pushing professions that were less exciting to me but offered a higher degree of job security and financial stability.


  1. What were some preconceived notions about science or scientists and did that change once you explored your career in it?

I was pleasantly surprised by how relaxed and open I found the professional world of Oceanography could be. I realize that this isn’t everyone’s experience in academia, but my time at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and my involvement with the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (Pal LTER) project was filled with interdisciplinary collaborations, sharing of resources, and a free flow of ideas.


  1. We can get caught up in the romance of being a “world traveling scientist” but it takes real hard work and a lot of sacrifices to actually do. What were some big compromises or struggles you experienced choosing to go down this path?

While I ultimately love what I do, there are a lot of personal sacrifices that I’ve made by doing this job, the way that I want to do it. Working as a contract field biologist took me away from home for roughly ten months out of the year in 2014. I’ve missed weddings, birthdays, funerals, Thanksgiving, New Year’s celebrations, and the day-to-day companionship of family and friends. Maintaining relationships with significant others is also challenging because there is always a component of long-distance and I am usually working in remote environments where there is no cell phone service or an Internet connection. Starting out, there is also a lack of financial stability and job security. I have seen colleagues leave this profession to pursue careers in the medical or business sectors because the demand and starting salaries are so much higher. Academic science is often operated on shoestring budgets, and when fieldwork is located in an exotic location, it is easy to find well-qualified volunteers or people who are willing to work for travel and living expenses in exchange for the experience. My biggest challenge right now is finding permanent employment with a science platform I respect that is also offering a salary that I feel is commensurate to seven years of experience I’ve accumulated and the two academic degrees that I’ve earned.

kate ice

  1. What keeps you motivated when you’re feeling the drudgery? Do you ever hate it? What keeps science fun for you?

Like any job, there have been some awful, overwhelming workweeks that I’ve had to slog through. I have been lucky enough to live and work in some of the most pristine wilderness on the face of the planet, including Antarctica, Prince William Sound, Alaska’s North Slope and the Bering Sea. The other side of the amazing field experiences is that I’ve also logged 40+ hour workweeks for months at a time to organize, prep, and analyze the 1000s of  samples we collected in the field; a stationary, monotonous task that still requires a high attention to detail. For me, getting through weeks of long hours or the disappointment associated with failed work is the responsibility associated with ensuring that you’re delivering high quality science to eventually share with the scientific community. I was also lucky enough to have worked in labs where there was a supportive and humorous group of coworkers and graduate students to bring relief to the routine. Opening up and asking for motivation from your peers has helped me through a lot of my unenthusiastic days. Creating and cultivating a supportive work community will bring fresh perspectives and energy to projects that may have become mundane from long hours of myopic familiarity.


  1. Advice you’d tell youngsters , some key points you wish you knew before you set out.

Surround yourself with people you trust and who are always inspiring you to continue investing in and pushing the limits of your work. Sometimes you may feel compelled to chase an opportunity because it’s the ‘right time’ or the location is ‘too good to be true’, but this work can occasionally require that you invest a lot of your personal time to achieving project goals. Working for and with people who recognize and value the amount of effort you’re contributing will increase your overall satisfaction with the job and ensure that all your effort won’t be taken advantage of. My bosses and peers have been great advocates for me and their connections, support and recommendations have opened up opportunities that I would have never considered within my reach. I also wish that I had done a better job of prioritizing my personal time when I was going through graduate school. When I initially started my thesis project, the amount of work that needed to be done seemed so overwhelming that I would feel guilty when taking time out to do something for myself. In retrospect, making clear definitions between time at work and time at home would have made me more efficient in the lab while making the time to myself at home more fulfilling. Don’t be afraid to carve out those hours to yourself!

Want to see more photos of Kate’s journey? Click here.

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An Arctic Researcher Confesses Her Relationship Woes

Women’s magazine featured an article titled: An Arctic Researcher Confesses Her Relationship Woes . Immediately I turned my attention to the words and read every single one written by Alia Khan.

This is exactly the type of honesty I like to hear! Stories of the true compromises that are made by adventuresome world-traveling career woman.


Photo courtesy of Google Search on Alia Khan.

I originally wanted to re-post the entire article on WOMANSCIENTIST primarily for your gratification and secondarily to provide a safe haven for the article, shall it not remain on its original site, but then I learned about copyright infringement laws and I don’t wanna get mixed up in dat bidness, so you’ll have to go to the original posting and read it for yourself.

I did do a little additional stalking of Alia’s professional work in the field and I want to direct you to her amazing links

Dark Snow Greenland and eight other posts she’s written for the New York Times Scientist at Work – Notes From the Field.


Photo courtesy of Women’s Adventure | February 3, 2015 | By Alia Khan

Now on to my thoughts about the article:

The reason I loved reading Alia’s confession is because it resonates with my own concerns as an adventure loving female in science worrying I won’t find a partner to support me emotionally and professionally.

Typically guys are the ones that get to go on those grand journeys while their women folk wait for them at home and I ain’t neva gonna be one of them stay-at-home types.

I was once in the Peruvian Amazon and I had more-or-less hired a young guy to tour me around the town of Iquitos–the parts of town where normal Western tourists don’t get to go. We spent the day together and I, as a tall blonde foreigner, managed to avoid all other types of harassments because I was “with a local”. As the day progressed and turned into evening, over beers, this young gentlemen made the joking remark, “You can be my wife and make a home while I’m out leading jungle tours!”

!@$%# ?! What’s that you say?!?! Are you kidding me!?

I informed him that if that were to EVER in his wildest dreams even happen, I would be the one going out on the jungle tours and HE could stay home and be the house man.

Even though I was in Peru for that exchange of nonsense ideas, I feel like this is the common stereotype that still exists in much of modern America. For whatever reasons (I gather it has mostly to do with the woman’s share in child labor and rearing) the woman seems to give up her career pursuits more easily than the man does. So, what if you’re a woman who doesn’t  want to give those pursuits up? You have to battle with the body clock ticking, with family and friends and society telling you you’re selfish for not giving up your pursuits or telling you that you’re suppose to support your family and Mom is your new career.

I think all those barriers are garbage. Obviously they’re honorable endeavors in themselves for those who want that life, but as adventuresome women, we need more women role models to look up to in this arena. And this is why I bring to you Alia Khan’s article.

She has pursued her research interests, her adventure interests and all along hoped Mr. Right would show up during a grand journey. The problem she encountered was that men she met who were also on their own grand journey, and didn’t want to give that dream up for a relationship either.

Alia is not without strong bonded relationships that will last her a life-time, not at all. She’s been in some intense situations with people in remote locations where nothing but a strong bond formed. Yet, none of these necessarily make for a good partner with whom to settle down romantically and perhaps raise a family.

Towards the end of her article, in her voice I sort of hear a little panic everyone exiting their 20’s gets, as she exclaims: “I’m 29 and finding my life focus changing, especially when I’m in places like Scandinavia or Chile, surrounded by young families with adorable babies bundled up against the cold.[…]I wouldn’t make any choices differently. But where does this leave me for dating in my 30s? Do I have to choose between fieldwork and a relationship?

I had to laugh in an empathetic way when I read that last sentence.

I’ve had my fair share of aging crises throughout my 20’s, feelings like I’m going to miss out on big life milestones as I watch the years tick by. During my 20’s I had finished college, been married and divorced and bought a house in between. Things “real” adults did.  Yet, I had a strong wanderlust back then that I remember suppressing big time with my rational brain telling me that I couldn’t pursue all those dreams as a “married person”. So back then, I chose relationship over field-work.

I remember, a couple years into the marriage, there was a trip I really wanted to plan to go on whether my husband wanted to come or not. Someone told me, “You can’t do whatever you want anymore, you’re married.”

My heart stopped right then.  You’re saying marriage now means I’m trapped? That even if I have my own money and vacation time, I’m just not allowed to go travel if my partner isn’t interested or can’t get time off?

I didn’t even have kids! I would have understood that rule more if I had kids, but I was just only married! What kind of bull shit rule is that?!

As I entered my upper 20’s, the relationship dissolved (something I’m not going to elaborate on here) and I executed the D-word, Divorce. Thinking about how I wanted to conduct future relationships, I vowed to myself deep down that traveling was going to be one of my non-negotiables from here on out. I am traveling whenever I want, whether anyone I’m in a relationship with likes it or not! Harumph! (Extra stubbornness added in for effect.)

Now that I am 31, with all those adult things behind me, I feel so liberated from the anxieties that came with all the relationship shoulds I felt were imposed on me.

All of the life lessons I gained from that time in my life I hold valuable to my being. But sometimes I do regret that I spent my 20’s being distracted trying to make the wrong relationship work just because I felt like I needed to be a Suzie Homemaker and settle down before I reached the dreaded 30s!

Now I joke that I am reverse aging. I’m finally free to continue on my journey doing all the things I should have been doing out of college: traveling, making my own decisions, being more selfish with me and my dreams, speaking up, and pursing my career wherever it will take me. I kind of think that subconsciously I’ve aligned my career as a Biologist so strongly with needing to travel that now I always have a way to justify why I need to be heading somewhere.

I’m glad for women scientists like Alia Khan who write about their hardships on the personal front. To answer her question “Do Love and Wanderlust Mix?” I would say, they damn well better if that is what you truly want!

I understand we can’t control what the universe throws at us, much less control the course of a relationship with another human being we may fall in love with. However, it has also been my experience that the moment I truly come to terms with following my bigger purpose in life, things I pine for somehow manifest theme-selves eventually and naturally.

As Alia mentions, “When I feel particularly lonely and like I am making a personal sacrifice for scientific and career advancement, I remind myself that it’s a privilege to be able to explore the world while collecting data for a greater public service…

and that is what it really comes down to: you are the only one you need to make your life feel complete,  so do what you want to do until you don’t want to do it anymore.

I’ve learned it is a waste of energy to get caught up in the panic of needing to reach, or fearing to miss, certain arbitrary age-denoted milestones.

Just let life unfold like a purdy little flower blossom.

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Women in Oceanography

This week a 260 page special issue came out featuring Women in Oceanography  YAY! I wanted to post the link here so you can reference other amazing women doing science!



A decade ago, in March 2005, The Oceanography Society published a special issue on women in oceanography with the intention of exploring why men vastly outnumber women at the higher levels of the field. Now 10 years later they’ve come out with another feature issue high lighting the progress that has been made, barriers since the last volume was published and areas where further attention might still be needed. The publication has been getting a lot of press featured in AAAS, at Bigelow Laboratory, and at The Institute for Systems Biology.

“We captured our story through statistical measures, longer narratives, articles describing some innovative US programs that were conceived to promote women and retain them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and one-page autobiographical sketches written by women oceanographers.” 


Two senior research scientists at The Institute for Systems Biology are featured on p.189 and p.234: My boss, Monica Orellana, and colleague, Anne Thompson, respectively. Go Monica and Anne!  Click here to download the PDF and read the original publication in full.

Additionally there are 15 more in-depth profiles of women in oceanography on the Women Oceanographers website here.

If you’ve thought about having a career in the marine world, I found a great article in the December 2011 Nature publication.

Marine Dreams : Scientists in a glamour field offer tips — and reality checks — for the next generation of marine biologists. 



I hope to get more Interview Bios up on WOMAN SCIENTIST webpage but I LOVE LOVE LOVE that women are being high lighted in sciences elsewhere, because surely this site alone is not enough =)

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Reinventing Science Museums with Art — Interview with Nina Arens


Nina: Artist. Scientist. Educator. Entrepreneur.

I met Nina in 2010 while working in the lab at The Institute for Systems Biology. She was also a lab technician slaving away at the bench doing repeated tedious tasks to advance our understanding peroxisomes in fatty acid metabolism using yeast as a model organism.  This project took a peak into how epigenetics plays a part in disease spreading of lipid disorders which have huge health implications.


The lab didn’t hold Nina for long. “It was at ISB where I decided not to pursue a scientific career…” Her strong artistic side and desire to blend art and science in an education setting drew her to get a degree in International Museum Studies at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden.  I remember Nina being hesitant, wondering if it was the right move to make. Leaving home, living abroad, leaving science. She took the leap of faith and spent two years absorbing the culture of museum design and curation. She visited 40 different museums, all the while thinking about how she could innovate and improve upon existing science museums of today.


She has returned to Seattle and is now back in the lab at the Institute for Systems Biology but this time she is working on Desulfovibrio vulgaris, an  extremophile sulfur-reducing bacteria, which can only survive in anaerobic conditions. She mentors students in the summers, and is also focusing on her new entrepreneurial adventure in creating a non-profit Pop-Up Science museum!



Nina is a perfect example of a woman striving to successfully blend all of her interests of the right-brain and left-brain into a fulfilling career even when traditionally art and science have not gone together. She has a unique artistic style and show cases her work and other artists as inspirations on her website.


This beautiful image was created by Arie van ‘t Riet using x-Ray radiography. See more beautiful images and Learn more about his work here: http://www.x-rays.nl/index.htm

To read more about Nina and her projects check out her website!

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