Cause it's all about me, you know....
This is not the typical blurb about a career in science. If you're really interested you can download my CV, but I've got a whole website to myself here, so naturally I have a long-winded, detailed story about the WHY rather than the what.
My tale starts as a young child growing up in the Bible Belt of West Texas....aaaand I'm kidding. Not about growing up there; there's no joking about that. But only the very exceptional get passionate about nature when their main experience is the dust bowl of West Texas.
My story really does start early, though. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. In the fourth grade, each of us had to make a little poster of our dream job to hang on the classroom wall. I picked "Math Professor" and found an image of a bearded man in a lab coat with frizzy hair. It turns out that my random guess wasn't too far off, even if I'm still waiting for the man-beard and frizzy hair.
When I ran off to college, I decided to major in math (theoretical) because I liked it, and focus on travel because it seemed like all the women I admired had adventured around the world. By sheer coincidence, it turns out that I loved both the math and the travel, but mostly the travel. I went to amazingly beautiful, completely alien places: Maui to snorkel in the volcanic reefs; the cloud forests of Costa Rica for my first ever field work; tropical villages in Mexico to work with my first supervisor. In each place, I found a narrator, someone who told me how close we are to losing everything I found so incredible.
UT Austin spit me out with my math degree (and a Liberal Arts degree on the side because why not?), yet what I really wanted to do was become useful to the world, to those places we were losing. My first 'real job' was at an environmental consulting firm, and it rapidly depressed any dreams of consulting as my career path to conservation. Over 1.5 extremely educational years, I delved into the world of wetland mitigation, NEPA, and working with developers. The biggest lesson I learned was that there is often a noticeable gap between decades of ecosystem research and on-ground regulatory implementation. In my reasoning, only a scientist could fix a problem of missing science, so off I went to become a scientist.
The rest is pretty straightforward: I moved across the world to Western Australia for my Masters Degree, moved back across the world to British Columbia to earn my PhD, and moved south again to my home country for a post-doctoral 'Restoration Synthesis Fellowship'. I've learned a lot about science, about its crucial strengths and its massive limitations. I've learned that it is only one part of a larger movement towards softening the global human impact.
I've also learned that math is useful in all circumstances. So is Liberal Arts.