What do you do?
I am a scientist, strategist, and science communicator. I do this in many different jobs. This includes being the Technology Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the food technology company, Lachancea LLC. It also includes being a public speaker and a private science innovation and engagement consultant.
Why did you choose this field?
I realized I wanted to be a scientist when I was young and struggling with incredibly complex - and terrifying realities. My parents were getting divorced, I was suffering from debilitating anxiety and depression disorders and a phobia. I was in high school at the time and I took an anatomy and physiology course. I learned that all of the complex human behaviors we have from eating, to singing, to dancing can be explained by relatively simple logic that bones don’t move and muscles pull them together. I loved how science provided a framework that allowed me to predict occurrences around me. Finally part of my world made sense. By learning about the natural world I saw and experience so much more around me.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I have discovered novel antibiotics from microbes that lived in soil, I have named a new species of fungus, and I found microorganisms in wasps and bumble bees that help people in the food and beverage industry make better products with better flavors. I have even gotten to share my joys of microorganisms and research with the Wall Street Journal, PBSNewsHour, on a nature documentary, and even at conferences where my co-speakers included Elon Musk, Serena Williams, and the pope. And I did it all in very high heels.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love solving puzzles, and science is full of puzzles. It can be the puzzle of how to find a new microbe that will help us solve a given problem, or it can be the puzzle of how to get a certain audience to be excited about the microbes that are on our shoes. Every day is a new puzzle to solve creatively!
Best advice for next generation?
Be bold: Boldly reach out to people whose work you admire. Boldly dare to think about how your idea can reach and help the multitudes.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
I just might have the most famous hair in science (outside of Einstein’s). This is mostly due to being selected as the 2015 woman of year for the satirical science society: The Luxurious Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. As a result of this samples of my hair exist in museums on two continents. I think it even says this on my Wikipedia page.