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About the Event

What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
Yoga, walking my dog, watching movies.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I sing pretty well and play the piano badly.

Do you play any sports or do any athletic activities?
Hiking, rafting, skiing, rock climbing...basically anything outdoors!

What is your favorite non-science book, magazine, or blog?
“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo

What’s the most frequently played song on your mp3 player?
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”

How do you describe yourself?
I am a teacher, scientist, artist, and lover of life.

Who do you look up to and admire?
All the fabulous teachers I have had.

Highest degree attained
PhD Atmospheric Sciences

Schools attended
University of Utah

Favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college
Science, Math, Drama

What educational accomplishments are you most proud of?
Valedictorian of the College of Mines and Earth Sciences when I obtained my BS in Meteorology.

What kinds of challenges did you overcome during your education?
There were very few women in my classes and NO female professors when I started studying meteorology in my department.

Salt Lake Community College

Official title
Lecturer (tenure track)

“Layman’s” title

Years in this organization/position

What does your organization do?
Educate students in Utah for transfer to other colleges and Universities in Utah, obtaining associates degrees, and training for the workforce.

What is your role in the organization?
I teach courses in meteorology and geography and do research at the intersection of both.

Describe your work environment
I get to interact with students and colleagues daily, but also have quiet time to develop lessons and do research.

Describe a typical day in your job
On a typical day I teach two or three classes in the morning, work on grading and preparing for the next day's classes in the middle of the day, and work on research and class development in the afternoon.

Describe an atypical day in your job
One time I got a group of friends together and we danced my PhD research. We created a short film to enter in the the Dance Your PhD competition. It was so much fun!

How is the work you do important to society?
My teaching is very important for students who have less access to higher education to be able to go to college. Most of our students eventually transfer to four year colleges and universities and I try to help get them there.

My research is focused on how we can better forecast dust storms so we can warn people to stay indoors and avoid the negative health effects of breathing dust.

What projects or goals are you currently pursuing?
In my teaching I am working on developing an associates degree program in meteorology, which will be one of the only ones in the country.

In my research I am continuing to investigate how dust from the deserts impacts people in Utah and how we can forecast dust storms.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Trying to motivate students to put time and effort into their studies. I try to make the learning process fun and engaging, but if the students don't care, it makes it less fun for all of us.

What is the most exciting, most amazing, or scariest thing that has happened to you during your work?
Getting caught in a raging dust storm in the desert while trying to collect dust samples. It was really living the research in real time.

What’s the coolest part of your job?
Getting students excited about science!

What are some of the perks of your job?
My time in the summer is flexible in the summer, so I can choose to teach, do research, travel, go to workshops, take classes, write grant proposals, or anything else that I want to do!

What are the downsides of your job?
Sometimes I have to be inside when it is nice outside and sit in front of a computer a lot.

If asked to “sell” this career to someone, what would you say to convince them to pursue it?
If you want to try to changes peoples lives, science and teaching are great ways to do it. I get to change peoples perspectives and impact peoples lives, every day.

What’s something that most people don’t know about your job/work?
I am a meteorologist and one time I did a research study in a meteor crater. However, I WASN'T studying the meteor, I was studying the weather inside the crater. The term meteorologist come from “hydrometeor” which means water falling from the sky (aka rain, snow, hail). So people who study and forecast the weather are called meteorologists. The people who study meteors are called meteoricists.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job/work?
Most people think meteorologists are just the people that tell them about the weather on TV, but there are TONS of other career options for meteorologists and atmospheric scientists.

What personal traits make you well suited for the work that you do?
While I am actually a very shy person, I love being up in front of a class of students. It kind of feels like acting to me, but I just get to be myself. I also don't take myself too seriously and can laugh it off if I make mistakes.

What career-related awards or other forms of recognition have you received?
Expert Witness Training Academy Travel Grant 2013
AGU Science Policy Conference Student Travel Grant 2013
America’s Science Idol Contestant 2013
AAAS Section E (Geology & Geography) Travel Grant 2013
NSF GK-12 TGLL Fellowship 2009-2010
Funded Participant, AMS Summer Policy Colloquium 2009
Member of the Year, U of U Student Chapter of the AMS 2009
WEST Fellowship 2008-2009
Graduate Student Travel Grant 2008
Member of the Year, U of U Student Chapter of the AMS 2008
Graduate Student Travel Grant 2006
AMS/Industry/Government Graduate Fellow, NASA's Earth Science Enterprise 2005-2006
University of Utah College of Mines and Earth Sciences Valedictorian 2005
University of Utah College of Mines and Earth Sciences Outstanding Senior 2005
University of Utah Department of Meteorology Outstanding Senior 2005
University of Utah Kennecott Fellowship: Kennecott Scholar 2001-2005
University of Utah Full Tuition Scholarship 2001-2005
Mortar Board Honor Society 2004
Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Nominee 2003
The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi 2002
Golden Key International Honor Society 2002
Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society 2002

Previous employers and positions that have lead to your current role
Graduate Research Assistant, University of Utah
Teaching Assistant, University of Utah
Associate Instructor, University of Utah
Adjunct Instructor, Westminster College

Other positions not necessarily related to your current career
Ballet teacher, yoga teacher, Climate Action Plan Intern

Best job you’ve ever had and why
Any job where I get to teach others about something I am passionate about, which luckily is most of my jobs!

Biggest career “break” or notable moment
When I was working on my master's degree I won a fellowship to be a “scientist in the classroom” at a local elementary school. It was really a turning point because I realized I really wanted to TEACH students about science in addition to doing research. I always knew that I liked to teach, but at that point I knew it had to be a integral part of my career.

What were you like as a kid?
Shy, “smart”, with tons of different interests!

What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Punky Brewster, Pete's Dragon, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Reading Rainbow, Choose Your Own Adventure, The Babysitter's Club

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up at age 12? At age 15? At age 18?
At 12, a archeologist (aka a scientist).
At 15, a scientist (not sure what kind).
At 18, a TV meteorologist (aka a scientist).

When did you know you wanted to pursue your current career, and what drove you towards it?
I decided to study meteorology because I loved science but I also loved acting and performing. So, I thought being a TV meteorologist would be a perfect career choice! However, as I started looking at careers for meteorologists more and more, I decided I didn't want to be on TV and would rather teach and do research about the weather and how it impact people.

Who inspired you on this path?
All my awesome science and acting teachers over the years.

What did you believe about this career before entering into it that proved to be different once you were in?
That once you pick a major or career you are limited to that. I have a huge interest in other sciences and other fields and have learned that incorporating them all together makes me a better researcher and teacher.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what other career(s) might you have pursued?
I think any career I could have would have to combine science and teaching in some way. I could have been a TV meteorologist, or a high school science teacher, or even an actor in science fiction films!

Why did you agree to become a STEM Role Model?
I think it is really important for students to see that scientist are just people. They are not some mythical figure with a white labcoat.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your career?
Find supportive mentors to help you along your way when you have challenges and be serious about your studies. You don't have to be perfect, but you do have to keep trying.

What advice would you give students in general?
In any class you take think about how it will connect to the things that you are passionate about.

What are some interesting places you’ve traveled?
I LOVE to travel. I have been to Australia, New Zealand, China, many countries in Europe, Mexico, Canada, and all over the U.S. My next top destination is somewhere in South America.

So far most of my research has been focused in the U.S. In northern Arizona and western Utah.

Additional resources:
Dance Your PhD (A Dusty Story):
My Webpage:
America's Scientist Idol Game Show:
The Polluted WEST (part 1 and part 2):