Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I work with young girls who are from underserved communities and historically underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and create opportunities for them to explore their STEM identities through mentorship, and project-and place-based learning in the aquatic sciences. We are preparing the next generation of scientific divers and oceanographers and environmental scientist.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I have always been awestruck by the ocean and the diverse life that lives within. I was a swimming natural and once I became certified as a scuba diver, I ventured around the world to take in all of the beauty the ocean had to offer. After years of scuba diving and being an ocean steward, I noticed a paucity of participation of girls and women from underserved communities and who are historically underrepresented in STEM engaged in ocean exploration and aquatic recreation. From that observation, I came up with an idea to start an organization that addressed minorities in aquatic STEM.
There is a second arm to my career which involves education, specifically, higher education. I have served as a professor, teaching courses in STEM and Psychology and am currently an administrator at a State University. I use my passion for life-long learning to inspire others to lead through forward-thinking and innovation to build the next generation of scientists, explorers, educators, and artists.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My teachers in college influenced and encouraged me to follow my dreams. My mentor, Dr. Charles Duncan, the Chair of Psychology at Lincoln University made sure that every summer I was at a research facility/university to build my skill set and experience.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
The most fascinating element of my work is watching young girls build their confidence and explore their STEM interests.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I am a life-long learner. I have had many great opportunities that have shaped who I have become. I served as a volunteer firefighter-medical technician. This opportunity allowed me to hone my skills in crisis management and working under pressure. I was a neurochemistry summer fellow at Princeton University, a psychoneuroimmunology summer fellow at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, an NIH fellow in cognitive neuroscience at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and completed two postdoctoral fellowships. The first postdoctoral fellowship was in Pediatrics in the Division of Hematology and Oncology where I studied the neuropsychological and neurophysiological sequelae of stroke in a pediatric sickle cell disease population. This was followed by a second postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroradiology where I studied the use of various neuroradiological techniques in detecting stroke in a pediatric sickle cell disease population. My science-adjacent skills, such as writing for formal/informal audiences and public speaking led me into academia, where I served as a professor for several years. After several years of teaching, I moved into administration where I am now an Associate Provost for Academic Affairs.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology - Lincoln University 1993; Masters of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience - Howard University 1996, Masters of Business Administration - University of Baltimore (to be confirmed 2019) and Doctor of Philosophy in Neuropsychology - Howard University, 1999. PADI Certified Master Diver.
What are your hobbies?
I love scuba diving and horseback riding (event jumping). I am a member of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a CAP Aerospace Educator and I love flying single-engine planes.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
For those seeking to go down a path similar to mine, my advice is first, keep an open mind and understand that learning is a life-long process; it never stops. It is never about what is possible, but what you may think is the impossible that will allow you to truly open your mind and reach beyond the stars.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?
I fell in love with the mission and activities of the Ocean Exploration Trust. I was able to identify with what they were trying to accomplish and as a result when the opportunity presented itself, I applied for the Science Communication Fellow program.