Current Position: Freelance science writer and editor
Past positions: Environmental consultant at Flatland Environmental, Executive Director at SEAWA: South East Alberta Watershed Alliance, sessional university/college instructor (for over 20 years!)
How did you get into the job that you're in now?
I've always been addicted to science, but halfway through my Ph.D. I realized that I would rather curate science than create it. I became less interested in honing my knowledge of one topic and found more enjoyment answering questions from students and leading discussions. I decided I wanted to share science with a broader audience. Children and young adults are comfortable asking questions. We still have questions when we grow up – we just don’t ask them. We get busy, we don't understand the jargon (so we think we'll look stupid), or we don't know who to ask. That made me sad for the huge swath of the public that is scientifically-enthusiastic and curious.
Where do you hope your career will take you next?
I apologize in advance because I don’t know who should get credit for a drawing I once saw of three nested, slightly-off- kilter ovals. The outside ring was labeled “explainers,” the next was labeled “elucidators,” and the innermost ring said “enchanters.” I want to be an earth science enchanter; someone who delights or fascinates people with stories of the natural world.
Why did you choose a career in earth science?
Some people are destined to become bankers, others to become engineers. I was born to be a mosquito-bitten, mud-covered, backpack-gear-hauling earth scientist. Thanks to my mother – my first and best teacher – I have always been happiest outside. That, combined with an insatiable curiosity about the natural world, propelled me into earth sciences.
What is your advice for anyone considering an education or career in earth science?
Get outside and test-drive your affinity (tolerance?) for field work. As a river scientist, I have been hot,
cold, wet, dirty, tired and sore; but I loved every second of it. Come to think of it, I should add scared to the list – I just had a flashback of me stepping on a still-sleepy rattlesnake beside the Red Deer River in
Dinosaur Provincial Park.
I also think that it is critical to find a mentor; someone doing what you hope to do. Don't be afraid to ask
a lot of questions. A good mentor can save you time, money, and effort by preparing you for the path
What do you wish the public knew about earth science?
Earth science isn’t just for scientists. Every time you step outside, or look outside a window you are experiencing the science of the earth, and there is some very cool stuff out there!
The basics aren’t hard to understand (although I will admit that geophysics gives me a little grief). Many scientists explain things well and take great pleasure sharing what they know. If you ask them a simple question, you will get a simple answer.
Social media is an excellent place to find earth scientists willing to share their latestwork and the work of others. Questions from the curious are always welcome.
Views expressed in blog posts reflect those of the author, and not necessarily those of the CFES.