Just about a year ago, my cell phone rang while I was visiting family and friends in Maryland. The caller id said New York City. In my mind this is pronounced the way the cowboys did it in those old Pace picante commercials, as if the words itself were distasteful, even though this is not the way I actually feel about the place. I thought to myself, I don’t know anyone in NYC, so I let it go to voicemail. A few minutes later, I see that the caller left a lengthy message, so I listened to it and thus began my adventure as one of the five 2015 recipients of the L’Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellowship.
In September, when it was still very hot and steamy in the “Swamp” (Gainesville), L’Oreal sent some folks to follow me around and film me for a short biographical sketch. This lasted two full days waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone. The end product is absolutely wonderful, but it definitely made me push my boundaries and think more about how to interact with the public as a scientist. I received training for how to talk to the press, how to frame my responses for the general public, and how to guide the dialogue to promote my message. These are certainly not skills that I learned as a graduate student!
My experiences as a L’Oreal fellow have inspired me to further develop my skills in communicating science to the general public. As part of my fellowship, I developed a short documentary about Florida women in marine science. I had a great time traveling around Florida to visit some really awesome women. Florida coasts pictured below: St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, and Cedar Key.