As a scientist, it is my job to not only create new knowledge, but also to disseminate it. I have worked with teachers and administrators at the Jefferson County Public School system to improve curriculum for primary school students. I also provide continuing education for the guias (forest guides) on Barro Colorado Island in Panama and give ad hoc field lectures to visiting tourists. Lastly, I have been fortunate enough to provide early research experiences to high school students.
I have also worked to connect elementary school students with science. Research shows that early engagements with science improve science literacy and interest in STEM fields. Through the Jefferson County Public Schools, I have worked with elementary school educators to organize field trips and develop content for lesson plans. I also designed an active learning model that teaches elementary school students how forest degradation influences carbon cycling. I worked with researchers from the College of Education and Department of Biology at the University of Louisville to employ this learning module as part of the “Day of Science” research program.
Because I have lived extensively at a field station, I’ve regularly given guest lectures about tropical forest ecology and ecosystem processes to visiting field courses. Additionally, I often hold ad hoc field lectures with student tourists to explain the importance of tropical forests. I also worked with the Glenwood High School to provide visiting high school students with their first research experiences. I plan to build on these experiences to engage the local community with science during in the next stage of my career.