Next Generation of Women in Science

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As part of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Fort Collins Science Center scientists volunteered to pass along personal and professional advice to the next generation of women and girls in science.

February 11 marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Dedicated by the United Nations, the Day of Women and Girls in Science is part of an effort to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Long-standing biases and gender stereotypes can still steer girls and women away from science, technology and engineering related fields. At present, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women (UNESCO Institute for Statistics). This day is an opportunity to share the experiences of women in science, in an effort to make the next generation aware of opportunities in the STEM field. Hopefully these awareness efforts will empower the next generation of women in science. an effort to make the next generation aware of opportunities in the STEM field.   Hopefully these awareness efforts will empower the next generation of women in science.  

At the Fort Collins Science Center, we mark this day by celebrating the scientific achievements of women at the US Geological Survey. Scientists volunteered to pass along personal and professional advice to  the next generation of women and girls in science.

 

Follow your curiosity! Ask a million questions. Say yes when an opportunity comes up to try something new. 

I'm a senior scientist with the USGS studying ecosystem ecology. Ecosystem ecology takes a systems approach to understanding how environments work, looking at the flow of materials including water, carbon and nutrients. I apply this approach primarily to a mountain catchment in Rocky Mountain National Park, asking questions about the long-term effects of air pollution and climate change on lakes, soils, and vegetation. Our work produces new understanding of ecosystem processes and information shared with national park managers for them to use in management decisions. 

I am most proud of providing the scientific underpinnings that were used to establish policies to protect national parks from air pollution. As a public servant, there can be no better achievement than having your science put to use to protect the environment. --Jill Baron, PhD, Senior Scientist

 

Work with people who you enjoy and make you laugh.  

I work with a range of USGS natural scientists and Department of Interior partners to help them answer questions about people that they encounter in their work. Recent projects focus on drought, managing transforming ecosystems, and decision support tools. I’m proud of my work teaching workshops on creativity in science for graduate students and post-doctoral students. --Amanda Cravens, PhD, Research Social Scientist 

Jessica Shyvers holding a greater-sage grouse

Jessica Shyvers, Fort Collins Science Center Ecologist, on the Cathedral Bluffs in northwestern Colorado in the summer of 2012. Shyvers was conducting nighttime trapping via ATV to attach radio collars to greater sage-grouse and collect genetic samples (feathers) as part of her dissertation research. 

(Credit: Shelby Weiss. Public domain.)

 

"Go as far as you can... the world needs you badly" - E.O. Wilson 

I am part of a large research team focused on conservation of sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystems. My current work involves investigating species-specific habitat requirements for Gunnison sage-grouse and making recommendations on habitat management actions for critical habitats to ensure species persistence, and using prioritization analyses to optimize conservation efforts that consider a wide range of species and habitat factors. 

I’m proud of finishing a PhD while pregnant and pursing a full-time scientific research career while raising two small children. --Jessica Shyvers, PhD, Ecologist 

 

Seek out mentors early on - there are so many women out there who would like to help you! 

 My interests lie in working with resource managers to answer priority questions about landscape, wildlife, and community ecology. I am interested in how we can better monitor the health of landscapes, the effectiveness of conservation and management actions, and the potential effects of development on species, ecosystems, and landscapes. My goal is to produce applied science that is relevant, useful, and used by planners, managers, and policy makers. 

I went back to grad school to do a PhD on the same day that one of my daughters went to kindergarten. We were both a little nervous, and obviously balancing work with life was pretty critical given that we had 3 little kids - one of whom was just a few months old. Four years later, I was really happy that I had taken that leap and was able to finish the program, gain some great friends, and learn a ton while still juggling lots of kid and family time. --Sarah Carter, PhD, Ecologist 

 

Take advantage of as many new opportunities as you can, particularly those that put you outside of your comfort zone. When you stretch yourself, you are more likely to grow both personally and professionally. 

I lead FORT's Molecular Ecology Lab. Our lab applies genetic and genomic technologies to address a variety of complex questions and conservation issues facing the management of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources. 

Throughout my career I have applied novel molecular genetic techniques to help better manage both species of sage-grouse. Early on, we used genetics to help define Gunnison Sage-grouse as new species and identify distinct populations of Greater Sage-grouse. Later, we described levels of connectivity in both species and identified how landscape features impact gene flow. Now, we are examining local adaptation and trying to better understand the ability for these grouse adapt to future environmental conditions. --Sara Oyler-McCance, PhD, Research Geneticist 

 

We need you! Your generation will be addressing the most critical issues ever to face our planet. Pick a pertinent topic that you are passionate about because you will need that energy, love, and drive to make important scientific headway to address those challenges. 

I am Research Ecologist with 15 years of research experience on invasive herpetological species primarily on islands and in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. 

Myself and three other USGS employees are responsible for development of a robust removal model which constitutes a significant step forward in population modeling by making removal models more informative by providing an inferential basis for answering questions in three areas: population size, changes in population size, and movement rates among locations between primary sampling periods. Link, W. A., S. J. Converse, A. A. Yackel Adams, and N. J. Hostetter. 2018. Analysis of Population Change and Movement Using Robust Design Removal Data. Journal of Agricultural, Biological and Environmental Statistics. --Amy Yackel Adams, PhD, Research Ecologist 

 

It can be intimidating to get started in a scientific career when there are so many high profile, experienced scientists to compare yourself to. Try not to get overwhelmed by your differences in experience, and remember that you have many more years to grow and develop your own skillsets and interests. Modern life feels so fast paced that even in your 20s it can often feel like you aren't achieving enough, but you have decades ahead of you to find your stride. Sometimes it helps to look back and give yourself credit for how far you've come in just a few years, rather than looking ahead and seeing how much further you might still have to go. 

 I assist with research on invasive reptiles in southern Florida, including Burmese pythons and Argentine giant tegus. My role involves assisting with manuscript preparation, database management and design, permits and reporting, and other project logistics. 

An accomplishment I’d like to share is overcoming Celiac disease. When I was first diagnosed, it seriously affected my mental and physical health, and I was afraid it would prevent me from following the career path I wanted, traveling, and having relationships with other people. Over time, I learned how to adapt and became confident in managing my new lifestyle so that I could continue to do the things I love. The experience taught me to appreciate a lot more things that I used to take for granted, and it helped me develop more empathy for others who struggle with medical conditions. --Jillian Josimovich, MSc, Biologist 

 

Do not be afraid to follow an unexpected path – whether that is a new type of job, a change in major, an unexpected trip, or even a new type of ice cream. I am just kidding about the ice cream. I never change flavors! As you may guess, change and big decisions are hard for me. However, in each phase of my career I had to face something completely unexpected – with uncomfortable and new opportunities. Embrace change and new opportunities – ignore the actions and opinions of negative people. 

I am a social scientist in the National Land Imaging Program and the Social and Economic Analysis Branch at the United States Geological Survey. My current research focuses on the human dimensions of Earth observations – investigating the users, uses, and value of Earth observation data.  

An accomplishment I would like to share is recent research on the economic valuation of Landsat. I'm also excited to start new research on the gender barriers in forest carbon monitoring. --Crista Straub, PhD, Social Scientist