Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I am a filmmaker who specializes in wildlife documentaries. My background is in Wildlife Ecology and I recently received my Master’s in Wildlife Filmmaking. I’m constantly looking for compelling stories that will help inspire people to coexist with the natural world. I especially like highlighting positive, relatable stories about human-wildlife conflict. These moving stories are most able to change behaviors, and I take these from seedling ideas to complete films through the development, research, filming and editing production processes. My wildlife background helps me know how best to translate scientific topics for the public and bridge the gap between important research and entertaining film.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I have always loved being in the outdoors and have had a strong empathy for species that don’t have a way to speak for themselves. Wildlife ecology, conservation, and management are crucial, but more people need to be aware of the new and old issues nature faces. Growing up watching Bill Nye and Jeff Corwin also played a roll in convincing me that media is a great way of reaching audiences that might not normally be interested in science. In making wildlife documentaries, I get to combine my scientific and creative sides and really make a difference.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My parents always encouraged me to play outside, and I have wonderful memories exploring the neighborhood creek, making art with my mom, birding and fishing with my dad, and going on fun family trips to National Parks.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
While doing field research on Marbled murrelets and Steller’s jays in Oregon, I loved doing at-sea surveys for Marbled murrelets aboard a crab boat. These rare little birds have such an amazing life history and to look for them feeding in the ocean was like a natural history treasure hunt. And of course, I loved photographing the beautiful coast the whole time as well.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
Every experience counts and I have tried to keep an open mind about what experiences might be relevant and helpful towards a career in wildlife filmmaking. Aside from my degrees in Wildlife Ecology and Wildlife Filmmaking, I did avian field research for several summers, worked at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, practiced photography, learned photo editing and digital restoration, and finally made my own wildlife documentary. My film is called Rancheros del Jaguar and is a positive story about Mexican cattle ranchers learning to coexist with jaguars in the borderlands of Northern Mexico.
What are your degrees and certifications?
I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Ecology with a Minor in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014 and a Master’s in Wildlife Filmmaking from the University of the West of England in 2018.
What are your hobbies?
I love water skiing, playing tennis, practicing photography, singing, hiking, and baking (pies are my favorite).
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
I’ve wanted to be a wildlife filmmaker ever since I can remember, but I still am not sure if I can say I have established a career out of it. The best things to do, which I will continue to do until I retire (hah!) are to be persistent, always keep learning, develop new skills that will help you stand out from the crowd, think outside the box, and make meaningful connections with people along the way.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?
I learned about the E/V Nautilus from a past Video Engineering Intern who highly recommended the experience. Learning about live broadcasting and remote camera operation is super unique, and the thought of exploring the deep ocean where nobody has seen it before is something I couldn’t pass up. Being a Video Engineering Intern with the Nautilus Exploration Program combines all of my passions and is an amazing learning environment.