What do you do?
I'm a professor. While I often simplify by saying that I teach chemistry, my training and research is biogeochemistry. I look at how the chemistry of the natural world affects the microbial community and vice versa.
Why did you choose this field?
I was a non-traditional grad student, beginning after homeschooling my kids for 15 years. During that time I'd taught my kids in an interdisciplinary way and loved thinking about the overlap between the traditional disciplines. I'd also done a bit of science outreach, a bit of tutoring, and a bit of community volunteering that brought me in regular contact with the hazmat team. That, and my love of the outdoors/gardening, had me really interested in environmental chemistry and remediation. The microbial part of my research was something I stumbled into during grad school.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I'm an author on one published astrobiology paper (with one in revision and more in the works). I was disappointed as a kid when I realized my physical issues would keep me from becoming an astronaut. I wish I'd known then that I could be an astrobiology researcher!
Why do you love working in STEM?
It sounds trite to say 'the sheer thrill of discovery' but that's exactly what it is. Even better is being a mentor to students getting into research for the first time and watching them experience it.
Best advice for next generation?
Don't ever feel like you 'have to' do things a certain way. There are many paths to the goals you set. If you think you can't possibly juggle motherhood, science, etc....don't. I feel that I am a better researcher for the time I took out of academia.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover!”
(May or may not be from Mark Twain)