As a child I played with plastic miniature jungle animals like elephants and tigers as often as I dressed up Barbies and American Girl dolls. I hung Ranger Rick blue-footed booby posters along my bedroom walls and searched for salamanders in the backyard. And I grew up surrounded by the menagerie of alternative pets my parents assembled for their allergenic offspring— including an Amazon parrot, Chinese box turtle, brown poodle, zebra fish, and neon tetras. In college I minored in Biology, but soon realized that I don’t want to determine how many breaths an elephant seal takes in one minute— I just want to ensure its ability to breathe.
Biology gave me crucial science background; Comparative Literature furthered my writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills; and film, photography, and Art History courses strengthened my artistic expression. I captured the beauty of San Francisco’s sea lions in slumber as well as the vivid birthing and breeding season of Año Nuevo’s elephant seal colony, and also made a short film about Bay Area dog adoption. My junior fall in Australia was remarkable, as memorizing fish species through illustrations in books certainly cannot compare to observing cleaning stations on the Great Barrier Reef. I focused my research project on how photography can promote wildlife conservation, and carried out a survey that found people are most attracted to images of mothers and baby animals. During my senior year, I conducted a quantitative and rhetorical analysis of National Geographic magazine’s wildlife articles and imagery for my honors thesis— research that helped me identify the qualities of successful wildlife stories and photographs.
Given my passion for biodiversity conservation, I’m staying at Stanford to complete a master’s degree in Earth Systems with a specialization in environmental communication. I fervently believe in the transformative power of words and images, and hope to learn effective methods of engaging humanity in wildlife conservation through an interdisciplinary combination of ecology, photography, and writing courses. The program will take about two years, and I’m really looking forward to more time in the Bay Area during this next phase of my life.
With this blog I hope to share my adventures, observations, and thoughts as I discover how I can best contribute to biodiversity conservation in the years ahead.