Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I work full time as the science communicator in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice University. I am also a part-time graduate student studying the impact of x-ray tomography on organics in Mars samples. Until moving to Houston, I worked for more than 15 years curating meteorites at the Smithsonian Institution.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I had always wanted to be a geologist, having starting collecting and curating minerals at age 7. Following completion of my M.Sc. in geology, I accepted my dream job in public programs at the Smithsonian working on a new gems and mineral exhibit. Museum work, public service and service to science was very satisfying, and I was able to move into sample curation following the completion of the exhibits. Curation science is something that I believe is an important area to promote, and so upon my departure from the museum, I started a Ph.D. project focused on better understanding the impacts of certain analytical approaches to return sample examination as part of the curation process. I still get to do science and serve the broader sample science community.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My main mentor was my Uncle Hugh who was a 'rock hound'. He not only freely shared his collections with me, but also helped me by providing access to books and journals to further my interest.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
This dive (as well as the two that preceded this one) provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a unique event and proof of concept. The results have potentially wide-reaching impacts for the sample science community and the exploration community.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I definitely had a non-traditional path. I had anticipated a linear academic trajectory, but a chance discovery/advertisement and a cold-call that established a strong connection enabled me to join the Smithsonian, something I never thought possible.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Science in Geology (University of Maryland, College Park) and Master of Science in Geology (Bowling Green State University, Ohio); Ph.D. student at the Open University in the UK
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include photography, growing and judging orchids and gardening.
How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?
I have been associated with the PI and his research for many years and was happy to provide my outreach communication experience to help promote the event and the excitement of having the opportunity to potentially succeed in the recovery of meteorites in a way that has never been done before.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Don't limit yourself- make the most of any opportunity that inspires you. Learn to promote yourself, but do it in a genuine and honest way.