Science is for everyone, and so are spiders.
I believe that science - both as a career, and a casual interest - is for everyone, and quality science communication is critical to making this idea true. Many groups in this country have limited access to science education through formal learning institutions, are underrepresented in science, and rarely have the chance to build meaningful connections with actual scientists. Traditional narratives present scientists as exclusively as white males, and this perception is strongly self-reinforcing. As a Hispanic immigrant, and a scientist, I feel responsible for using outreach to address these issues and make science more engaging, authentic, and diverse.
My favorite part of science is sharing it with others, and I engage with the public through a variety of outreach and science communication efforts. Between classroom visits, museum activity stations, guest lectures, and afterschool programs, I have designed and presented educational experiences for students of every age, from Pre-K to adult.
At the right scale, fascinating wildlife can even be found within a city. There are entire tiny worlds at our footsteps, teeming with beautiful, weird, and fascinating forms of life that we too often ignore. Arthropods and other invertebrates are unbelievably diverse, integral to our ecosystems, and have dramatic lives—and anyone with a magnifier (or $10 clip-on phone lens) can go see for themselves, once they know where to look. I want to use these animals to tell stories that start others on their journeys of discovery.
I have brought my outreach arachnids to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh Children's Museum, local schools, and even helped put on a spider dance show at the Wood Street Art Gallery. I've also designed and run several after-school events with Assemble PGH, a non-profit aimed at serving students from underprivileged neighborhoods, including a four-part series on animal and human senses.
If you are in the Pittsburgh area and are interested in having me visit your institution to talk about spiders, vision, and/or science at large, please get in touch! I am also available for remote classroom visits via Skype-a-Scientist.
I also enjoy translating academic research into accessible and meaningful stories for the public, through both traditional science writing, and short-form journalism on social media. Thanks to the AAAS Mass Media Fellowship, this summer, I will be working as a science journalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.