My first science female role model was my AP biology teacher in high school back in New Jersey. She taught me my first and only “biology” course. I went on to take many environmental science, ecology, and science courses, but this was my only “biology” class. I read that biology book so many times it now lives deconstructed as three-hole punch pages in a binder at home alongside my dictionary. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but we still email each other and share updates on our lives. She’s still doing it, retired but travelling the world and currently riding her bike cross country.
Next came two post-docs at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. These two were confident, doing great research, and taught me my first invasion ecology course. They had created the course together with no requirement to do so, and were doing a stellar job. They then took me on as an independent study student to write a meta-analysis paper that’s already been cited 44 times. They showed me that two post-docs and a master’s student could write an Ecology paper. That we could go out and answer a question that mattered to us. Although we’re all spread out over the country, I know I can lean on them for advice.
After that came two wonderful post-docs at the University of Kansas. One held my hand through a. figuring out how to pipette for the first time and b. all the library prep and bioinformatics that followed to sequence our samples. And anything else I needed help with. The other owns her own mycorrhizal inocula company on the side like it’s no big deal and is always happy to have me stand in her office doorway way too often to chat. She’s always the one to send me a message when I’m hunting for microbes in the tropics and check in. These two took the time to teach me and talk with me no matter what else was on their plate.
My most recent science female role model is a new professor here at The University of Kansas. After having met at her job talk student lunch and exchanging a few emails while I was in Ecuador, she agreed to work together to build a new graduate bioinformatics and microbiome data analysis class. She’s shown me that a new faculty member and a PhD student could create an awesome class from scratch and helped me realize I actually (maybe?) enjoy teaching.
These are the women scientists that give me a vision for my future. Not about exactly what I’ll be doing, even three years from now, but the core of who I want to keep striving to be. Motivated and passionate, demanding and supportive, creative and continually learning, and doing what I love.
My two closest friends during my Master's at Yale, also great role models!
Dear all of you,
Thank you. Thank you for pushing me. Thank you for struggling with me. Thank you for succeeding with me. Thank you for your advice, your time, and most of all, seeing who I could become.