When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Describe your research in five words.
“How people look for rocks.”
I had no idea. I loved hanging out in the library, but didn’t consider becoming a librarian.
Actually, at one point during my undergraduate program, I was told by the registrar’s office that I couldn’t register for classes until I picked a major. I was at 100 credit hours (you need about 120 to graduate). I looked at the courses I had taken, and my favorite was a geology class – “Dinosaurs and Disasters on an Evolving Earth.” So, I became a geologist.
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose research as a career path.
After finishing my master’s in information and library science (ILS), I worked for the Florida Geological Survey, managing their sample collection. The two topics weren’t supposed to be related, but I kept finding principles and concepts from ILS useful in my work with the collection. Then, I started talking to geologists working with sample collections at other institutions and realized they were facing some of the same management problems I had — but without the ILS foundation to draw solutions from. I thought, Why don’t the people managing these collections — who provide access to patrons — have training in ILS topics? I wanted to investigate that to create solutions.
What’s an interesting/funny story from your time doing research?
As part of my research I try to keep current on the innovations and practices in the community I study. In 2014, I went to Yosemite National Park for a project that brought together computer scientists and geologists in the field. During the day, the geologists would show us how they collect and record data in the field, and the challenges they have when they return to the office. In the evenings, we had conversations and exercises to discuss possible technical solutions and challenges related to their needs.
It was such a cool experience — you could really feel the evolution of ideas by the end of the week. Instead of focus groups or meetings, they actually took the scientists out into the field together. I hope to use creative methods like that in my own research.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming female researchers in your field?
Have a network of people in your life — whether they are supporting your research agenda or just being a good friend. In addition to my committee (and my field of ILS), I have been grateful to have found supportive peers and mentors in the earth sciences. When you constantly push at research boundaries, it can sometimes feel like you’re doing it wrong. So it’s helpful to have supportive people around you — especially when your research is interdisciplinary.