I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences with an Emphasis in Environmental Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2017. During my time at Southern Miss, I was an active member of several honor societies on our campus and have continued to support them since graduating. While at Southern, I gained teaching experience working as a biology laboratory teaching assistant, educating undergraduates in the fundamentals of biology. I also worked in an ichthyology laboratory as a research technician under Dr. Jake Schaefer, where I wrote an undergraduate honors thesis studying the salinity tolerances of an invasive freshwater fish in Mississippi. I learned about the different frameworks it takes to execute a successful research program and because of that, my research has been continued since graduating and is in preparation for publication.
After graduating from college, I accepted a seven-month scuba diving internship at Rainbow Reef Dive Center, the largest dive shop in North America, located in Key Largo, Florida. Once I completed my internship, I worked for two years as a full-time PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with 24 instructor specialty ratings, Diveheart Adaptive Buddy, and Conservation Coordinator for Rainbow Reef. I enjoyed the time I spent working in diving the industry and have always wanted to utilize my diving skills for research.
I am proud to say that I am currently enrolled in one of the nation's top-ranked Marine Biology Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at Texas A&M University at Galveston, where I am pursuing my doctoral degree. I am working in a biospeleology laboratory studying marine cave biology, ecology, and marine cave conservation under world-renowned cave diver and scientist, Dr. Thomas Iliffe. Dr. Iliffe's research is what inspired me to apply to Texas A&M’s graduate program. I spent the past year getting certified as a Full Cave Diver and Technical Diver. I am excited to utilize my advanced diving skills for scientific research diving in marine cave systems. I believe I am in the right program to research specific topics in Dr. Iliffe's lab that will allow me to answer questions that could have significant implications on the conservation and future of aquatic ecosystems in caves.