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Connecting with the Community

As a first generation college student, I discovered that navigating my way through a STEM degree was difficult at times. I recognize that my academic successes have been in part due to the wonderful mentors I had along the way.

Equally important is the value that community engagement itself brings to the field of ecology.  Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is being threatened by climate change, biological invasions, and anthropogenic influences. To make a true impact, we must extend beyond academia, and make science more accessible and appealing for the general public.  

Outreach is one of my favorite aspects of being a scientist, as it gives me the opportunity to share my gained knowledge and most importantly, get people excited about science- wooh!

Board Member Service

I am actively involved in professional societies as a way to give back to the scientific community and help guide the next generation of scientists. Currently, I am on the board of the Southern California Academy of Sciences (SCAS) and have previously chaired the student & early career section of the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC), among other roles. As a board member, my primary focus is on creating opportunities to assist students, early career professionals, and practitioners in their professional development and research endeavors.

2019 Symposium Student Early Career Clai


Recently, I've been delving into the realm of Science Communication, also known as SciComm, to enhance my communication skills and to engage wider audiences. Take a look at some of the SciComm projects I've been involved in:

Ecology SciComm


Engaging with Undergraduates

I love sharing my journey, research, and advice with students interested in pursuing careers in STEM.

I believe it is crucial to eliminate the idea that "all scientists are geniuses". In reality, a lot of us are just persistent and are constantly learning from our failures. I give talks to undergraduates where I share my journey to graduate school, how I chose my field of research, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. 

 I also train undergraduate students in the basics of conducting and analyzing scientific research in lab and field settings. 


K-12 Outreach

Engaging the next generation of scientists is both essential and an enriching experience.

Every year, I speak to grade school students about careers in ecology and share my journey to graduate school as a first-gen college student. 

I also take part in local K-12 programs aimed at raising interest in STEM fields and increasing scientific literacy. Such as DroughtReach, SCAS Research and Training Program, & more.


Peer Mentoring

Mentoring is essential at every stage of our careers. The mentors I've had along my journey were/are invaluable to my success, as a result, I seek to reciprocate that guidance to the next generation of scientists. I have served as a mentor to students at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. I do this through one-on-one mentoring, developing and presenting workshops. If you are interested in establishing a mentor-mentee relationship, please feel free to connect with me!


Increasing Accessibility 

Land practitioners are at the forefront of managing invasive species, directly. Yet, lack of communication between land practitioners and researchers, along with land practitioners' lack of, or limited access to scientific articles generates a research-management gap that can hinder effective land management. Therefore, every year I meet with local agencies and land practitioners to share my research and discuss how my findings can be applied to solve pressing issues.

Multilingual science is also important. I was invited to give a seminar (in Spanish) on invasive plant dynamics to students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I also create bilingual (Eng/Spa) scientific resources.

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