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I became interested in amphibians during high school when I tagged along with my sister when she was doing frog research. During the next two summers, I assisted with desert toad research at the Southwestern Research Station in Portal, Arizona. Many of our study ponds were infested with American bullfrogs, and I became fascinated with these very successfully introduced amphibians.
During my last year of university, I took an aquatic ecology course. Much of my earlier research experience was organism-focused. However, this course really got me thinking about entire aquatic ecosystems, and exposed me to new topics such as nutrient dynamics, links between aquatic and terrestrial systems, and the role animals play in these ecosystems.
During graduate school, I was keen to develop a project that had a broader aquatic ecosystem focus but also incorporated my interest in amphibians (specifically bullfrogs!).
I love sharing my interest in science with others and I hope to continue to do so after graduate school by teaching at a community college or participating in science outreach.
The diversity and collaborative spirit. Other students are always willing to brainstorm about your research with you and that input often pushes you to think about your work in a way you never previously considered. The Friday graduate seminars are also a great, non-imposing forum for presenting new ideas or practicing talks.