1. Please Tell us how you are involved with the DEI Task Force:
Currently, I am working with other members of our task force to promote new outreach opportunities for members of the NGP. The first hurdle is locating these opportunities or organizations with whom we can establish working relationships. Specifically, I am interested in finding long-term mentorship opportunities with individuals in need of support, teaching, or guidance, such as individuals coming out poverty/homelessness or children in foster care. We are also focused on offering mentorship to individuals in the PREP program who are interested in pursuing graduate school.
2. Share the most exciting thing you enjoy about your research?
Consciousness is one of the most fundamental scientific questions. While consciousness exists on a spectrum, the degree to which humans are consciousness is what makes us special, and the fact that I get to spend my time researching what allows us to be conscious and have the incredible human experiences we do is very exciting.
3. If science wasn’t an option, what is another career you could see yourself doing?
If I couldn’t be a scientist, I think I would absolutely do something with animals. I LOVE animals, so I could see myself being a veterinarian (although this comes with challenges), a zookeeper, or perhaps running my own animal shelter.
4. What was your childhood dream?
I cycled through a lot of childhood dreams. If we are talking about career dreams, I went from wanting to be a “medical researcher” (whatever that means) when I was in fourth grade, to wanting to be an oceanographer, then marina biologist, and then criminal profiler. I wanted to be a criminal profiler for quite some time, but when I learned you have to be an FBI agent as well, it didn’t seem realistic for someone who runs into doors on a weekly basis.
5. What person in your life was the strongest influence on you choosing your career path? Why?
This question is a toss-up between my undergraduate mentor and my dad. My dad always told me I could pursue any career I wanted, whether it be as POTUS or a plumber. So I always believed I could have whatever career I wanted. But in terms of this particular path, my undergraduate mentor (shoutout to Dr. Suzanne Welcome!) really took me under her wing and told me science (and research) was an option when I was a student in her Biological Psychology class. Without her, I’d just be another 20-something-year-old with a useless psych degree.
6. What are your hobbies?
My current hobbies include exercise, reading, video games, outdoor activities like camping and fishing, and anything to do with dogs. I currently volunteer at a local animal shelter where I care for dogs on the weekend and cannot wait to get my own dog. I also consider being a turtle mom one of my hobbies, as my box turtle Luka is my pride and joy. I’m also planning to explore new hobbies this coming year, such as calligraphy.
7. What’s your greatest life lesson?
I have two great life lessons. First, stop caring what other people think. It really is just a huge waste of time and once you’re able to let go of what others think, you’ll find you can be a lot more confident and a lot less stressed. Second, eliminate “shoulds” from your life. They really only exist to carry judgement and when you stop focusing on all the things you “should do” or “should feel,” you can focus on what you want to do and what will make you happy.