What is your previous work experience? Please describe.

Before coming to the Nicholas School, I spent almost 3 years working as a scientist at Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law organization. There, I was a part of the Sustainable Food & Farming and Toxic Exposure & Health programs, and my research focused on issues ranging from agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, endangered species listings to regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (i.e. PFAS). Some projects that I worked on include drafting an administrative petition to EPA to amend its biofuel land-use rules, submitting public comment letters to challenge new chemical approvals, and testifying in support of state healthy soils laws. I also developed a research grant proposal on behalf of community clients from North Carolina, to collect and analyze agricultural air pollution data. As one of few science staff on the team, I worked closely with attorneys, clients, lobbyists, and other advocates from all over the country. 

In addition to advocacy, I'm also passionate about science communication, which is one area where I've been able to apply some of my visual arts skills. I designed fact sheets and other resources on regenerative agriculture to share with partners and legislators, as well as illustrated the cover for a report on New York City's community gardens!

Why did you choose the Nicholas School?

One important factor in choosing the Nicholas School was the breadth and depth of expertise here. There are so many resources at the Marine Lab, the Nicholas Institute, and the Law School that overlap with my interests. Also, starting a Master's program online this year has definitely been a unique challenge. Ever since Admitted Students’ Week, the Nicholas School leadership, staff and faculty have been incredibly enthusiastic in their outreach to new students. I felt welcome – even virtually – from day one, and I felt confident that the school would provide a supportive environment for me in my academic and professional growth. 

What are you looking forward to as a new Nicholas School student?

I'm excited to build new connections with my fellow classmates and to be fully immersed in a community that shares my interests in marine conservation at the Marine Lab! From my coursework, I look forward to expanding my understanding of the socio-economic and political dimensions of environmental issues, while developing more quantitative research skills as a scientist. It is also important to me to contribute to the school community. I look forward to getting involved in efforts that elevate diversity, equity and intersectional issues, both at Duke and in the environmental field more broadly. 

Do you have any areas of interest or special focus you will undertake during your time at the Nicholas School?

I am specializing in Coastal Environmental Management, and I am most excited to explore questions at the intersection of marine ecology, climate change, and conservation. I'm interested in blue carbon policies from a biological/ecological perspective, and I hope to study the climate mitigation and resilience co-benefits of adaptive, ecosystem-based fisheries management as part of these policies. 

What plans do you have for your career after the Nicholas School?

I would love to pursue a PhD, and use the skills and tools I learn at the Nicholas School to develop and dive even deeper into these research questions. Ultimately, I aspire to work for a conservation NGO/non-profit or government agency and provide scientific input for adaptive management of marine ecosystems that are vulnerable to climate change.