I have always felt pulled in two different directions, drawn by both my love of science and nature, and my love of writing and the arts.
Third grade was a big year for me: it was when I discovered my love of creative writing after hearing my teacher read some of my stories to the class. I discovered my inner environmentalist after reading a book about what kids can do to “save the Earth,” and even discovered my love of manatees, my favorite animal, after my class “adopted” one.
Love for Nature
I have always loved reading, and decided I wanted to become a writer when I grew up.
I have also always felt at home being in nature. Snorkeling among colorful fish in Hawaii, gazing at sea otters and jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and spotting dolphins and whales while sailing with my family in Monterey Bay all helped spark my love of the ocean.
I nurtured both of my interests all through college at the University of California, Davis. I decided to study biology, which I thought might give me more job opportunities, but also took English and literature classes, and looked for opportunities to write, such as an internship writing for the university’s news office.
Some of my most memorable college experiences came from studying abroad: a literature and history course in Scotland, and a marine biology & terrestrial ecology course in Australia. I considered myself a bit of a homebody growing up, so leaving the country was a big adventure – little did I know that I would go on to do work that would let me travel regularly to different countries!
Following my Passion
I decided towards the end of college that I really wanted to find a job related to something I cared about and realized that what I really loved was the ocean. Even though people told me that marine biology wasn’t a very “practical” career, since it can be hard to get a job in the field, I decided I still wanted to give it a try.
To really dive into marine biology, I went to get a master’s degree in marine science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (through San Jose State). Because I loved everything about the ocean, it was hard at first to pick one area to focus on. I realized I wanted to do work that would benefit people as well as nature. That’s why I decided to study fish – they are like a link between people and the ocean, and are an important food source for both humans and marine animals.
As much as I enjoyed doing research to understand nature, I also wanted to share stories to help other people care about nature too. Still wanting to be a writer after I finished graduate school, I went on to complete a science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where I learned to tell stories about science.
Today, I get to draw on both of my interests through my job that combines both science communication and fisheries science.