Jasmine is a 6th year PhD candidate in the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology program. She studies the ecology of island fox parasites on San Miguel Island, which is a part of the Channel Islands National Park.
Why did you obtain an advanced degree? What inspired you to pursue a STEM-related career?
I have known that I wanted to be a biology professor since about age 10. I was inspired to pursue my focal area (parasite ecology) by a professor I had as an undergraduate. I was able to combine my already-established passion for herpetology (study of reptiles and a amphibians) with a new field, parasitology (the study of parasites).
If you could tell your younger self or this generation’s youth advice about STEM and university education, what would you tell them?
I think that the science classes we take in middle/high school are very broad and basic. There are so many fields of STEM out there that middle and high school never touch, so don’t be discouraged if previous science and math classes haven’t clicked. Science is also incredibly interdisciplinary. We are taught from a young age that STEM and art, for example, are two extremes on a spectrum, but I don’t think that could be farther from the truth!
What changes do you think could be made so underrepresented people in STEM can have better access to education and how STEM can be diverse?
There is no sweeping answer one can give to this question. However, supporting underrepresented folx in STEM is a continuous and iterative process that should include financial support, listening to marginalized voices, addressing toxic cultures, and so much more. If programs aim to increase the number of underrepresented students without also addressing the structural and historical oppressions that led to the underrepresentation, then programs are destined to increase the number of students struggling with trauma associated with navigating academia.
Do you have any words about Black History Month?
I am not a big fan of Black History Month. I think it is often times a “check the box” mentality of highlighting Black diversity, but I think Black scholarship, diversity, etc. celebrated year-round and organically rather than relegated to one month.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Thank you for this opportunity to share a piece of me with CSEP and other students and scholars!
Do you have a hobby or participate in any fun activities?
I compete on the UCSB Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, The Burning Skirts.