Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Belvidere, Illinois which is a small town in the middle of Northern Illinois’ cornfields. Life there revolves around good burgers, cheese curds, and sports, especially football. Of course, there’s nothing like a good ol’ county fair!
Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?
After high school, I went to the University of Oregon to get a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. I learned a lot about invertebrate zoology, which I used to conduct research in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Also, my time in a deep sea reproduction lab there earned me a position on a Gulf of Mexico deep-sea research cruise after I graduated. On this cruise I discovered my love for media management and science communication. I also got to go on a dive in the submersible ALVIN!
About a year and a half after I graduated from undergrad, I moved to Miami to pursue a Masters of Professional Science (MPS) at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School. Since starting there I expanded my knowledge in Science Communication and Outreach while also learning about tropical ecosystems, which I fell in love with during my trip to Panama. I just finished my Masters which included a social media strategy project for the science center!
How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?
The bulk of earning an MPS degree at the Rosenstiel School is the development of a project through an internship. I applied for the science center’s science communication internship while searching for and applying to similar internships to finish my masters degree. After hearing back, I enjoyed meeting Keeley Belva, Lisa Belskis, and Allison Garrett in an interview. I was honored and excited when I got the email that they enjoyed the interview, too! I consider myself very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to meet so many people and learn so much from everyone across all of NOAA Fisheries.
What do you do at the science center?
I’m a part of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s growing communications team! Together we brainstorm new content ideas, update web pages, write news stories and blogs, and talk through ideas in meetings with people from all around the science center in an effort to get the amazing science being done out to the public. While we all share the workload, most of my tasks are centered around social media, outreach, web stories, blogs, and the development of special pieces like our quarterly newsletter Sea Notes!
What do you like most about your position?
The networking opportunities for sure! The most time consuming and important part of working in communications is exactly that: communicating. While it can be a hassle at times, communicating with different scientists, administrators, and communications staff creates new connections and even friendships. Without networking I wouldn’t have experienced things like shark tagging, meeting other interns at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, or learning about parts of science I didn’t know about before.
What advice would you have for someone interested in a career at NOAA Fisheries?
Definitely go for it! No matter what kind of position you are going for at NOAA Fisheries, it's better to try something new rather than regret missing an opportunity. NOAA Fisheries has been a great place to learn new things, meet new people, and establish connections that can lead to your next opportunity! During my 1-year internship I was able to learn lifelong skills and create amazing connections with scientists. I earned opportunities to do things and speak to people that I never would have had prior to working with NOAA Fisheries.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Pride Month is an incredibly important reminder of how far I and the community have come. Pride reminds me to reflect on who I am, unite with my friends, and celebrate love in all its forms. There’s much discourse, especially online, about what Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community stands for and the only take away anyone should have is that we are a community of love and acceptance. I don’t speak for everyone and no group of people is perfect but I wouldn’t be as confident in who I am today without my family and friends who are accepting of me no matter who or how I choose to love.
Is there a book, quote, or person that influenced you to be the person that you are today? Tell us why.
I’m a very sentimental and philosophical person who carries so many things and people with me as I go through life. Recently, my advisor and professor, Keene Haywood, influenced a lot of my growth and personal discovery through the journey to receiving my masters degree. Keene’s classes and advice not only showed me a career path in science communication but also taught me so much about my own voice, especially in my writing. I’m very lucky to have a mentor so supportive even while remote!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m a seeker of both adventure and many different hobbies! I enjoy being outside as much as possible, though the Florida heat makes that hard sometimes. Photography is one of my biggest hobbies and when I’m outside I’ve typically got my camera with me too. If I’m not doing that I can be found inside painting, playing video games, or doing a puzzle while listening to music. I plan to focus on doing more photography, diving, and traveling in the future.
Tralee has completed her communications internship with the center. Fare well, Tralee!