By the time I reached high school, I knew that I wanted to be a scientist. More specifically, I knew I wanted a career where I could be outside while contributing to the protection and preservation of our wonderful natural ecosystems, but figuring out exactly what that would mean or what that would look like wasn’t always clear.

As an undergrad, I discovered a passion for understanding and protecting our waterways, including the ecosystems that exist and depend on them. I wanted to continue following this passion, make a difference and work to preserve our water resources. Finding out exactly how to do that was a mystery to me. After graduation, I began exploring the different options that a career in environmental science had to offer. I worked as an environmental educator on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where I ran school and community programs that helped educate people on the importance of wetlands and keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean. After a year of service, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I worked as a development associate. There I gained crucial experience on grant writing, fundraising and the extensive background work that goes into running a successful environmental program. Yet, during my time in Maryland and D.C., I missed the field work and research that inspired me in the first place.

While the decision to return to school and move to Georgia to pursue my master’s degree was a scary and intimidating one, it felt like the next step I needed to take along my career journey. As a master’s student at Georgia Southern University and a Georgia Sea Grant Research Trainee, I have been able to work along the Ogeechee River and in Georgia’s marshes. My current research focuses on how sediment disturbance can influence the concentration and persistence of antibiotic resistant bacteria within recreational waterways.

One of the things I love most about my research is that it has allowed me to combine aspects of biology, public health and remote sensing. Collaboration within science is very important and necessary when tackling issues that directly impact both humans and the environment. This work inspires me to continue pursuing ways we can mitigate and prevent pollution in our waterways, as well as seek out more interdisciplinary opportunities within the aquatic field. No matter what the next step in my career looks like, I hope to keep advocating for healthy waterways and pursuing my passion for science.