When I visited the university and met with the faculty in the Biological Science department, I was very impressed. Faculty and graduate students were genuinely friendly, there was a strong sense of community and collaboration and the research was top tier. My advisor is a well-established scientist and has an excellent reputation as a mentor so I was excited about the opportunity to work with him.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
While I was at the University of Florida a mentor and professor named Dr. Marta Wayne encouraged me to go to graduate school. I did not think I was smart enough but she encouraged me to try and supported me as I applied. She also introduced me to other scientists to get a sense of the field and that made me want to go to graduate school.
Importance and impact of research
People always wonder how my work applies to society and humans; I often pushback and say that knowing about the world around us and the land we inhabit is also important. If we can understand how populations change over time and how animals interact with the environment, we can develop beneficial strategies to support animal diversity.
I would like to be a professor at a university and teach biology, animal behavior and evolution. I love working with students through teaching and mentoring and I look forward to future career opportunities where I can support young scientists.
Advice for anyone considering graduate school
Ask people about their graduate school experiences; know what you are getting into! It is hard for sure, but make sure you know your “why” for applying to a program. Also, make sure you communicate with friends and family about what is required of you to go to graduate school. Many people lose friends because they do not know or do not communicate the shift in their time and priorities that comes with graduate school.
Accomplishments during graduate school
I received the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship when I started graduate school. I received several departmental grants for my research. I received the FSU Graduate School Dissertation Award. I was able to be a mentor for FGLSAMP, and spoke at many diversity and STEM conferences. I chaired at both ecology and evolution symposium for SACNAS. I won the three-minute thesis competition at FSU and for the state of Florida.