As a Bay Area native, I have had the luxury of growing up with access to a variety of outdoor activities. My brother, who is several years older than me, became a participant of a Junior Naturalist program with the East Bay Regional Park District when he was in elementary school. His devotion to this program meant that as a baby, my years outdoors began with my family while they planted oak trees, worked on habitat restorations, reintroduction of native species, or other field studies. My earliest childhood memory is watching California Quail hatch in the incubator at our local regional park. We were working to reintroduce our State bird back into the wild in an area where non-native predators caused their numbers to plummet. Although the quail population continued to decline because of the non-native predator issues, watching these birds hatch with their floppy topknots really captivated me and made me want to participate in field work. From then on, I actively was involved in the volunteer program with my brother and my family, and together we participated in numerous projects up until I graduated from high school.
The search for my desired occupation has been relatively easy for me because I was intrigued by marine life from a very young age. My journey thus far has been one that has prompted me to explore the different fields of marine science to find the right niche for me. Growing up with a mother who studied marine invertebrates gave me the ability to be heavily exposed to tidepools and the fascinating organisms found within them. For several years I was obsessed with nudibranchs and truly believed that was what I would study. My parents signed me up to for Camp Sea Lab which is a marine science camp in Santa Cruz during the summer of my sixth grade year, and that confirmed for me that marine science was something I wanted to pursue seriously. When it came time for college, my goal was to select internships that would expose me to different disciplines in marine biology and different species. Thankfully this led me where I am today. Pushing myself to get accepted into different internships has provided me the opportunity to gain field experience, network with people actively conducting research, and connected me with the Stranding Network in my final year of my undergraduate program.
Currently, as a graduate student researcher in the RIPTIDES program (Research-Intensive Pedagogical Training for Interdisciplinary Estuarine Scientists) at the Estuary and Ocean Science Center in Tiburon, I am a member of the Hines Lab. Here I will be exploring the spatiotemporal patterns that may be revealed through analyses of stranding network data for marine mammal strandings California Academy of Sciences’ geographic scope.