I grew up in beautiful Ojai, CA and spent a lot of time outdoors and around animals through my involvement with my local 4-H club. As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by, and held a deep respect for, the natural world around me. I earned a BS in ecology, behavior, and evolutionary biology from UCLA in 2006, and then went on to serve as the undergraduate advisor for the environmental studies department at UCSC from 2006-2008. From 2008-2014, I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History under the tutelage of my PhD advisor, Dr. Mark Westneat. My dissertation focused on the evolution and functional morphology of fish feeding systems. Since graduating, I have been working as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago, furthering my studies of the biomechanics and phylogenetics of diverse coral reef fish families. In parallel with my formal research and teaching training, I have developed a passion for making science education accessible to and inclusive of traditionally underrepresented communities, teaching and exposing science to non-scientists, marine conservation and management, international collaboration, and an excitement for discussion, education, and advocacy relating to women in STEM fields.
The Schmid College Teaching and Research Fellowship will allow me the very unique opportunity and challenge to develop as both an educator and a scholar during my postdoctoral training. In particular, I look forward to working with the students of Schmid College by way of the Grand Challenges Initiative, and helping them to develop into creative independent thinkers and problem solvers; a set of skills I believe are crucial for becoming an ethical and engaged citizen in any career path. I am also excited to take my research in a bit of a new direction by studying hagfishes (evolutionarily and biomechanically fascinating jawless fishes) with Dr. Douglas Fudge. Now is a really exciting time for STEM at Chapman University, and I'm thrilled to be joining this vibrant and growing community!