Beach clean-up at Galeta Marine Lab with the U.S. Embassy, local and U.S. high school students, and the non-profit, Cambio Creativo

Outreach Initiatives

My experiences in education and outreach have shown me that it is imperative for academic scientists to actively bridge the gap between research and the general public. To achieve this objective, I have combined my research with marine conservation and education efforts through both teaching at the undergraduate level and developing lasting education and conservation programs at the K-12 level.

To broaden the reach of active scientific research to K-12 students, I have developed a variety of outreach efforts that bring scientific research into the classroom. Through a NSF Broadening Participation Postdoctoral Fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and in collaboration with a Master's student at SIO and the Birch Aquarium, I created classroom lesson plans for high school and middle school students based on my research. This lesson plan has already been taught to over 100 students and is in the hands of at least 10 classroom teachers throughout San Diego County. I also helped to create an aquarium exhibit at the Birch Aquarium, which will reach a wide range of the public, from children to adults, as Birch Aquarium has an average of 430,000+ visitors annually.

I strongly believe in the power of international education to spark interest in science. I therefore created cross-cultural exchange between the U.S. and Panama through collaborations with Cambio Creativo, an after school education program for K-12 students in Panama. Panama has one of the largest income disparities in the world. In an effort to address the lack of resources at the K-12 level, I spent five years helping to develop the non-profit, Cambio Creativo, which works to foster self-determination and critical thinking through art and science education in underserved communities. Cambio Creativo began working in the community of Coco Solo, which is located among the ship yards of the Panama Canal and across the street from the STRI’s Galeta Marine Laboratory where I conduct field work. I began working with Cambio Creativo when I realized that most students in Coco Solo had never visited Galeta.

In response, I ran field trips to Galeta and initiated a beach cleanup program at Galeta, in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Panama and Cambio Creativo. This program has become central to Galeta's outreach curriculum because it effectively unites teaching natural history and environmental stewardship. As a member of Cambio Creativo’s Board of Directors for two years, I also helped to secure funding from the U.S. State Department, international fundraising campaigns, and donations from the local community. As a result, we now have formal classrooms, a computer room, and a vibrant after school program that is run as a partnership between community members and undergraduate volunteers from the U.S.

Please see the below summary for more details on my comitment to engaging the public in science.


Community and International Engagement in Science

Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Birch Aquarium. 2014 –.

  • Accredited Participant for the University of California Delegation. UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP22). 2016.             Press conference on technology to monitor climate change effects in the ocean.
  • Perspectives on Ocean Sciences Lecture Series at the Birch Aquarium.
  • Panelist for official screening of the documentary, Chasing Corals, in Kihei, Maui, HI
  • Coursework development for Title I students based on my research. 
  • Aquarium exhibit on mantis shrimp.
  • Blog posts for Scripps News, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.
  • Public lectures for Ocean Enterprises, SEACAMP San Diego, Pint of Science Festival.

Board of Directors. Cambio Creativo, Panama. Chair 2013 – 2015.

  • Responsible for strategic, legal and fiduciary direction of 501(c)(3) that couples art and science.
  • Raised over $80,000 through donations and grants (State Department’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund and the US Embassy).
  • Blog posts for Cambio Creativo after school program.

Galeta Marine Laboratory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 2008 – 2015.

  • Initiated beach cleanup program.
  • Raised over $10,000 through corporate sponsorship and the US Embassy.
  • Monthly research lectures to the public.

University of California, Berkeley. 2006 – 2012.

  • Graduate Student Staff Member for Cal:Blast Teacher Training Program.
  • Graduate Student Researcher with the UC Museum of Paleontology Outreach Team.
  • Volunteer Coordinator and fundraiser of over $20,000 for the inaugural Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics Conference at UC Berkeley.
  • Blog posts for the UC Museum of Paleontology and Moorea BioCode Project.
  • Facebook page about stomatopod biology called “Oscar Stomatopod” that has over 500 friends

Creating Networks

SIO Postdoc Representative. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. 2014 –.

  • Secure funding for and organize monthly networking meetings; manage postdoc listserv.

Alumni Ambassador. Fulbright US Student Program. 2012 – 2014.

  • Presented at universities and conferences to promote STEM participation in Fulbright.

Co-coordinator, founding member. Integrative Biology Women in Science, UC Berkeley. 2007 – 2010.

  • Organized monthly group meetings on strategies for success in science careers.

Graduate Student Representative. UC Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley Natural History Museum. 2008.

  • Liaison between graduate students in UC Berkeley’s seven natural history museums.

Select Media Coverage

Physics Girl. 2017

Royal Society Publishing Blog. 2017.

Explorations Now, Scripps News, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 2016.

KPBS Radio. 2016.

Berdan, S.N., A. Goodman, C. Taylor. 2013. A Student Guide to Study Abroad. The Institute of International Education, New York. pp. 7, 302.

SERTV’s Ser Mujer. Panama. 2013.

Inside JEB. 2012.

Phenomenon: Not Exactly Rocket Science.

National Geographic. 2012.

Bionieuws. Netherlands, 2012.

ScienceDaily. 2012.

LiveScience. 2012.

La Estrella. Panama, 2 articles in 2011.

Radio Marbella. Panama, 2011.

Radio Panama. Panama, 2011.

Mongabay. 2009.

Daily Planet. Discovery Channel. 2009.

La Prensa. Panama, 2009.

Evolution series. The History Channel. 2008.