Outreach statement: Scientists have a mandate to engage with the public and foster a greater understanding and appreciation for science. Ensuring wide-spread scientific literacy is one of the key factors in maintaining a strong democracy. In addition, representation of what real scientists look like is fundamental to the decolonization of science and the promotion of an equitable and inclusive community. I am passionate about the democratization of knowledge and keeping knowledge, and therefore power, in the hands of the people. Here are highlights of some of those efforts.

Outreach activities

2022 This summer, our efforts with the Freedom Schools centered around gathering data that answers the question, “Does our community still suffer effects of the historical redlining practices?” Deciding to focus on air quaility, the scholars deployed several air quality monitors across Knoxville while consulting redlining maps. What they found is that that Knoxville air quality overall is rather poor and that more senors across the city are needed to resolve what the causes are.

2021 What a whirlwind of a summer with Freedom Schools! This year, I was able to team up with Dr. Drew Steen at UTK on an NSF-funded project that includes intentional exposure of environmental science to underserved middle and high schools students. This project was crafted to nuture students’ innate curiosity about nature and provide long-term research & learning opportunities for them.

2020 The Scots Science Scholars program, a learning community for incoming STEM majors at Maryville College, was recently awared a large grant from the NSF. I helped contribute to the immersive research experience and taught the scholars about environmental geobiological investigations that can be done right on campus!

2020 Due to the Coronavirus, East TN Freedom Schools have gone virtual this summer. Members of 500 Women Scientists are making sure that the young scholars continue to learn and grow their STEM skills at home by recording videos.
-In this one, I extract DNA from strawberries in my new laboratory.

-In this one, I demonstrate the natural cabbage pH indicator.

-And in this one, I demonstrate color mixing with capillary action.

2020 I was a STEM fair judge at the J.G. Whittier School in Washington, DC. One of the students learned “the process of growing bacteria is time-consuming” – this speaks to me as a subsurface biosphere researcher. One my favorite projects tested the efficacy of lip gloss…which speaks to me a as a gigantic lover of make-up.

2019 I volunteered with First Light program within Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE) boosts science education for inner city youth in Washington, DC through hands-on learning. We learned about the vastness of outer space and our tiny place in the Universe.

2018 500 Women Scientists KnoxPod provided science programming for five area Freedom School locations. With a legacy tracing back to the Civil Rights movement, Freedom Schools were created to furnish African American communities in the South with opportunities to achieve social, political, and economic equality in the US. Photos of our first summer together can be found here.

2017 To raise money for the labs devastated by the damage wrought by Hurrican Maria in 2016, 500 Women Scientists hosted a science salon fundraiser in partnership with Taste of Science in Knoxville, TN. Money raised went to Ciencia PR. See images from the event here

2017 Chelsea and I visited Camp Creek Elementary, a rural school on the foothills of mountains of North Carolina. We shared how DNA works and extracted strawberry DNA with them.

2017 Kate, Lauren and I visit the K - 5th graders at Sunbright Elementary in rural Morgan Co., TN. We talked about space trave and shot off rockets! Photos here.

2017 Ashley, Alex, Anu, and I all visited Bearden Elementary (Knox Co., TN) where we taught 5th grade students about what a geologist does. Of course, we made baking soda volcanoes!