Until I was 5, I was raised in a log cabin with no electricity or running water. I did not have a flushing toilet until I was 10.  My parent’s worked hard to save money to build a real house. I am humbled by these beginnings; and can do all those “Little House on the Prairie”-type things.

I lived in in NYC for 5 years and liked it a lot; it’s hard not to appreciate all the conveniences and offerings of one of the greatest cities in the world.  Now I’m back in upstate NY, in the Finger Lakes, where I was born and bred. I am at home here. I’m a city/country girl….a paradox, but it works well for me. I’ve lived a bunch of places throughout the country, and briefly in Europe.  I’ve driven across the USA a bunch of times, and yet, I still feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the earth, or the itch for experiences and beautiful landscapes.

I worked in the arctic tundra in Alaska every summer doing plant ecology research as part of my PhD at Columbia University. Now I’m a postdoc at Cornell University helping farmers and water resource managers plan for an uncertain future.


How I Became and Environmental Scientist

Because I was raised in a tiny log cabin in the woods until the age of five, and my family of five had no electricity or running water (few of the modern conveniences many take for granted), and since childhood experiences shape our lives, these humble beginnings helped frame my inevitable environmental endeavors.

It was around the age of fifteen that I picked up my first environmental book: Mark Hertsgaard’s Earth Odyssey.  I consider this to be a major turning point in my life.  It made me step back and take a look at all that I valued; all I believed in, advocated for; and how my childhood had fashioned my life.  It blew my mind to find out that some people did not know how to recycle, compost, grow their own food, or find beauty in nature.  After finishing the book I felt compelled to learn and read more.  Eventually, my undertakings led me to SUNY Plattsburgh, where I also became interested in Cultural Anthropology.  I am most interested in human ecology, systems, and the sociocultural interaction of humans with the environment.

I had no idea what to do with myself after graduating, and so bopped around the world for five years, doing odd jobs here and there, interspersed with an occasional internship.  Somehow I ended up researching Arctic ecology at Columbia University.  Got my PhD. Now I’m a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University helping farmers and water resource managers plan for an uncertain climatic future. Wonder where the road will take me next?  I don’t really know, but I’m certain I can’t deny my desires to stay in touch with nature and live lightly on the land.  Wherever I go, and whatever I do, I will always be a homesteader first, an environmentalist second, a plant fanatic third, and a scientist interspersed.


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