Hi. My name is Emily and I really like animals. I also like hats.
I really like nature. I really like wildlife. I think biology is the most interesting subject, and I know that the intricate and complex processes of living things will fascinate me endlessly and lead me through a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. I also know that I am not alone in thinking this.
As with many young and fortunate children, my interest began with my beloved pets- dogs, cats, hamsters, fish. To my mother's dismay, there were occasions where I might bring the outdoors in, but these were merely observational catch-and-release events
Only once was the release in the house. If you have ever seen those old cartoons where a woman is shrieking and jumping on a chair to escape a small animal, you can imagine my mom when faced with a harmless Western fence lizard.
For those of you who recognize this type of behavior and share my love of animals, keep reading. The opportunity to pursue your passion and make a career of it is not only possible, but necessary to the future of scientific research. The world will always need explanation- we will likely never know everything we can- and to be involved in discovering and sharing new information is the heart of science.
Increasingly the world also needs conservation and restoration. Every single person can help the planet, and you can do so much more when you promote science, contribute new knowledge, and use your intelligence and skills to benefit nature.
I study biology, at this time I am a Master's degree candidate studying comparative morphology of barnacles. Truth be told, I got into the barnacles for the manatees and sea turtles that they like to live on.
Manatees are my favorite animal. They have been ever since I was in 2nd grade and we had to write a report on any animal that had a book written about it in our school library. I was late to pick and was left with the only book left on the shelf- I didn't even know what a manatee was. Fast forward through high school graduation and a Bachelor's degree in biology with emphasis on molecular biology and genetics. I had visited Crystal River, FL a few times and swam with the lovely Florida manatees that reside there, and I had never stopped reading marine biology books. Where I live in California, more than an hour from the beach in good traffic, I simply did not know that an opportunity to study marine biology was only a short 15 minute drive from my house. The gleaming beacon that is the Loma Linda University Hospital hides a wonderful secret: its Earth and Biological Sciences department, which studies sea turtles, crustaceans, snakes, scorpions, spiders, birds, and a myriad of fossil forms.
It is a small department, everyone is wonderfully kind, and Dr. Stephen Dunbar kindly accepted me as a student! I spent my first summer watching sea turtles nest in the Bay Islands of Honduras and had the opportunity to speak about my research at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in 2019.
Then I started to spend more time with Dr. Bill Hayes' students, learning about reptiles and arachnids, falling in love with snakes (I own 4 now- don't judge me!), and going on field trips to find scorpions with blacklights, listen to the sonic calls of bats hanging under a bridge, and trek through the wild parts of our suburban habitat. It is a privilege to study science from experts in the field. It is a joy to learn and experience. I wish everyone could know the natural world as I do, and I hope that I can help facilitate this in whatever way I can.
If you live in a wild area, you are very lucky and I hope you appreciate or learn to appreciate how fortunate you are. I want to hear from you! What kinds of animals do you see? What kinds of plants? What are some interesting things that you wish you knew more about your local species?
If you live in an urban area, I assure you that you too are surrounded my wildlife. ome animals simply do better in cities- pigeons, coyotes, raccoons, rats. They have earned an unfortunate reputation, but are they not beautiful in their own way? I bet if you take a moment to look, you will find a wide array of interesting creatures. Squirrels are often darting from tree to tree and there might be a few lizard species hiding in plain sight. Ladybugs, beetles, ants, and spiders are never far. Animals adapt to their environment, and many have adapted to us. Domestic animals are indeed animals, and absolutely worthy of admiration, love, and interest.
I want to hear from you! What kinds of animals do you see? What kinds of plants? If you observe and ask questions, you have a starting point for science.
If you take the next step to find the answer, you are a scientist.