I am a principal investigator and organizational leader at Harvard Forest, a 4,000-acre center for research and education in ecology and conservation since 1907. I direct the Forest's education, communications, and public outreach initiatives: I manage the Fisher Museum; communicate Harvard Forest research findings to the media and the public; oversee educational programming for K-12, university, and public groups; mentor staff and students; write grants and fundraise; and serve as liaison to the students and faculty of Harvard University.
Every day, my work as a leader and educator is guided by the fact that the land Harvard Forest manages and benefits from is the unceded home territory of the Nipmuc People. I am personally committed to continuing to build a relationship with the Nipmuc community that ensures that this land and its life-giving benefits are mutually accessible, affirming, and sustaining. I am humbled and grateful to serve as the Forest's primary liaison to local tribal communities, and in this role, I contribute to a number of local and regional land and education projects led by Nipmuc leaders including Nia Holley, Keely Curliss, and Chief Cheryll Toney Holley.
With colleagues around the region, I collaborate on several research projects in science communication and social justice.
I regularly mentor students and lead trainings on science communication and stakeholder engagement. Feel free to browse and borrow my lesson plans!
With colleagues from around the U.S., I co-founded the Science Communication & Engagement section of the Ecological Society of America, and I have also co-chaired working groups on science communication, higher education, diversity and inclusion, and art for the US Long-Term Ecological Research Network.
I originally came to the Harvard Forest in 2007 as a research assistant, working on the community dynamics of arthropods (spiders, ants, and beetles) in bogs and forests. Prior to that work, I was a research assistant and naturalist with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, studying humpback whale population dynamics and educating diverse audiences about marine ecosystems.
I was raised in a suburb of Nashville, Tennesee, by a vibrant extended family of immigrants (French and LatinX), veterans, musicians, and proud service workers who always encouraged me to reach for the stars. Heading to college in Massachusetts was the furthest I had ever been from home.
While in college, I worked a full-time retail job to afford living expenses - until my sophomore year, when my advisor, Dr. Aaron Ellison, gave me a job in his ecology lab. For the next 3 years, he devoted grant funding to my independent research, conference presentations, and fieldwork travel, and after I finished graduate school, he hired me into his lab at Harvard Forest. It's no overstatement to say that his mentorship and support changed my life, opened the door to my career in science, and continued to hold that door open until I could stand on my own feet as a mid-career professional. I see it as my responsibility and privilege to give students today - from all backgrounds, but especially first-generation college students and students from racially and culturally underrepresented groups - that same level of support and encouragement. Together, we can make science a field that serves and welcomes all.