Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
My research focus is Harmful Algal Blooms. Currently, I am researching the annual harmful algal blooms found in the Great Lakes, and Lake Erie. I focus on the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. These blooms threaten water quality, tourism, and recreational activities due to their ability to produce harmful toxins. These blooms thrive for many reasons, but my focus is on how their buoyancy allows them to move vertically in the water column. I am using genomics sequences to measure the abundance of buoyancy genes to understand what influences buoyancy.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I have always wanted to pursue and career in science. My parents initially encouraged me to pursue environmental science by enrolling me in various camps focusing on climate change and environmental protection. From there, I knew I would pursue a career in Environmental Science. I learned so much during my undergraduate career, but I was most interested in water quality and microbiology. Now in graduate school, I study harmful algal blooms combining my interest in water quality and microbiology. I am working with harmful algal bloom research to fill in knowledge gaps in the field.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
Florida A&M University School of the Environment encouraged me the most throughout my education. The entire faculty and staff encouraged me through classes and helped me find opportunities to support my career path.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
The fascinating thing about my work is that even though harmful algal blooms are worldwide, they are all unique. Even the same species of bacteria/algae can behave differently depending on where you are in the world.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I have not had many jobs. Throughout my education and being a NOAA Scholar, I have been provided with many opportunities to network and work with scientists in this field. I am now working on my Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences to pursue a career as a research scientist focusing on environmental microbiology.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences -- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 2018
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading science fiction novels and baking. I am currently learning to crochet and sew.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
If you would like to pursue a career in environmental science, my most significant piece of advice is to be open. Being open to different opportunities that do not always align with your intended path. It will expose you to so many things where you can learn about the entire field and confidently narrow down what exactly you would like to study. Also, remember that this is a journey, and throughout the process, it will challenge you, but as long as you are doing what you love, it is worth it.
How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?
Currently, I am a NOAA scholar with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystem (CCME). The goal of CCME is to educate and train a new generation of scientists, particularly from underrepresented minority communities, in NOAA-relevant STEM disciplines and social sciences, equipped to utilize interdisciplinary approaches to address issues confronting marine and coastal communities. Within the center, there are many opportunities. They exposed me to Ocean Exploration Trust and the opportunities they provide.