I am fortunate to take part in research to protect oceans. However, one of our greatest challenges as scientists is bridging the disconnect between the research we conduct and the general public.
As such, I am always thinking about ways to combine research, education, and advocacy. I strive to step beyond my role as a scientist, serve as a champion of marine conservation and environmental justice, and catalyze others to take action on behalf of vulnerable animals and ecosystems that don’t have their own voices.
I am committed to engaging young people, particularly young women and non-English-speakers, in science and conservation to help inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & CITIZEN SCIENCE IN SOUTH FLORIDA
As an integral part of my Ph.D. studies, I am committed to public engagement. I serve as the Outreach Coordinator for the Coral Reef Futures Lab, organizing visits to the lab for local school groups and organizations. Our live corals and experiments are excellent tools for providing interactive lessons to convey how healthy coral reefs contribute to healthy coastlines and communities in Florida. Since over 60% of Miami-Dade county residents speak Spanish at home, I conduct these activities in both English and Spanish to make the content accessible to all visitors.
I also participate as a member of the University of Miami's Shark Research and Conservation Program, where I help lead school groups and citizen scientists on expeditions to conduct research on the ecology, behavior, and physiology of sharks off the coast of Miami. On the boat, our participants gain hands-on experience fishing for and collecting data on a variety of shark species, including nurse sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks, and great hammerheads. By interacting with sharks and actively contributing to the team’s research goals, our citizen scientists gain a better understanding of these misunderstood animals and learn about their importance for supporting our coastal communities and contributing to healthy oceans.
public engagement abroad
During my semester in Bocas del Toro, Panama as an undergraduate, I took every opportunity to engage with community members and practice my science communication skills in Spanish. I helped lead an environmental-themed field day, teaching local children about biodiversity conservation and waste management through a series of games. At the end of the semester, I presented on behalf of the marine ecology research group in both English and Spanish to a crowd of marine park rangers, local government officials and high school teachers. Through these interactions, I learned that involving non-scientists in discussions of local conservation efforts enables them to help improve the health and sustainability of their community.
Teaching & mentoring
In Spring 2019, I served as the teaching assistant for MBE 618: "Biology, Ecology, and Conservation of Coral Reefs". This is a graduate-level, lecture-based course that included hands-on laboratory sessions with live coral specimens. I delivered two lectures during the semester, led review sessions of course material prior to each exam, and taught students how to identify corals based on a range of morphological characteristics during practical laboratory activities.
As an undergraduate teaching assistant at Barnard College, I worked with instructors to lead weekly experiments and dissections for laboratory courses in organismal and evolutionary biology (Fall) and cellular and molecular biology (Spring). I love to share my enthusiasm for hands-on science to my students, many of whom were encountering biology for the first time.
I also serve as an active mentor for undergraduate student interns in the Coral Reef Futures Lab, teaching coral husbandry, experimental design, field research methods, molecular techniques, and data analysis.
empowering women in science
In December 2016, I organized a symposium of activities that celebrated the Hudson River and educated girls ages 8 to 14 in the New York City area about estuary ecology and conservation. Having doubted myself growing up as a woman hoping to make a difference through science, I wanted to empower other girls to believe in themselves as environmental stewards and agents of change.
The event, titled “Her Hudson”, had three primary goals: to provide girls with access to environmental education, to introduce them to female role models managing local conservation efforts, and to create a more inclusive, conscientious citizenry that strives towards improving community sustainability for the present and future. I partnered with environmentally-oriented organizations throughout the city including the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York Hall of Science, The River Project, and Riverkeeper, collaborating to plan interactive activity stations featuring their female staff.The activities explored topics like water quality, river food webs, and marine debris, making these important concepts fun and accessible for attendants.
Now that I live in Miami, I plan to host an event similar to Her Hudson here that empowers girls through environmental education, focusing on how healthy reefs benefit local communities.