Can you believe we’re already more than halfway through the year?! 2021 has been FLYING by... yet, somehow, it feels like I’ve been not going anywhere at all. Anyone else kind of feel "stuck" in some parts of their life?
What’s your ideal first date?
Really depends what I’m feeling like with the dude. Sometimes it’s the classic movie-and-dinner combo, other times it’s a hike out at a national park.
The first date I had with C was us at a speakeasy sharing drinks, talking about life, and eating outrageously overpriced food. Still a special place for us – we always get our tarots read when we go!
Any chance of seeing you in Oahu?
Not sure! I would love to go visit Hawaii one day (we have some friends over there), but not during the pandemic.
How was your visit with family?
Florida decided to welcome me with a tropical storm, LOL.
Other than that, it was super lovely, thank you! Really nice to see loved ones - some I hadn’t seen in a decade. I was able to surprise my grandfather (who I hadn't seen since before my grandma passed away) and got surprised by my younger brother.
Do you have arm hair?
Yes, just like every other human being.
How are you feeling today?
I'm feeling a little bit tired from traveling and jetlag (now 6+ hours ahead) but otherwise doing okay, thanks for asking. Turns out the best thing in Munich isn't the beer... it's a nap pod!
In some of your photos there is a submarine. What is its name?
There are two submarines I have worked with with on OceanXplorer: Neptune and Nadir. I’m usually in Neptune (the science one).
Is it hard being such a badass or does that just come naturally?
Ha, you are too sweet!
Snakes or spiders?
Snakes! Completely unbothered by snakes but I have a near-phobic fear of spiders. I truly can’t even look at one.
What was the most helpful thing a class/teacher taught you?
You can make a real impact every day! Each interaction is an opportunity to make a difference.
What helped you succeed?
The support from my family. My stubbornness and inability sometimes to give up. Friends who say my name in a room of opportunities.
Have you seen the Valerie Taylor documentary on Disney+?
It came out while I was home - I'm catching up on a lot of movies/TV shows while in quarantine!
How can we know a shark’s age?
The age of many shark species can be estimated by counting growth bands on fin spines or on the shark's vertebrae, much like rings on a tree!
What animals would you like to study?
I would love to study other predators - such as wolves, leopards, polar bears, orcas...
What made you choose sharks over any other animals?
I find them incredibly charismatic animals who have a bad reputation they just don't deserve! I felt compelled to learn more about them.
What does C do?
He works in Human Resources. As I lovingly like to say, he dicks around on Excel.
What advice would you give to anyone in a long-distance relationship?
I'm going to make a post on long-distance dating advice this upcoming month! Stay tuned.
Is it hard dating someone not in academia?
Yes. No. Sometimes.
I love that C and his friends largely aren't in academia because it gives me an "outside" perspective of how I can become a better science communicator. If I can't explain my work to his friends - none of who are marine biologists or scientists, to my knowledge - in a way that's easy for them to understand, then I'm a lousy educator! It's also really nice to not talk about climate change, shark habitat use, and ocean politics all the time (not that that is all me and my uni friends talk about... but you get the idea).
C hasn't really hung out with my Perth university crew (thanks to COVID) but I could imagine it being very odd being surrounded by all of these people who have published papers in journals and often sound like they aren't speaking English. He regularly points out the bullshit politics and incompetence in academia that myself and my friends deal with, but he believes in what I'm doing and is enthusiastically passionate about seeing me succeed.
education & work
How did you pick a career that you know wouldn’t pay as much as another career?
The simple answer: I followed my passion over a paycheck.
The more complex answer: My paycheck my passion comes with will probably not be enough, so I am coming up with other streams of revenue (other passions) to help get me where I want to be.
How do you manage life, social media, work, a relationship? Time management skills please!
Time Blocking, task batching, and day theming are my "secrets" to time management. Here's a good article that explains the science behind it and why it helps me out!
What did you study and how did you get to where you are today?
See my FAQ highlight section of my Instagram or the rest of this website!
What are some tips of becoming a better writer?
With most things, it gets easier the more you do it. Practice makes perfect, so continue writing... read other people's work to see what you like/don't like and how you can adapt it into your own writing... and don't forget to get Grammarly to take your writing to the next level!
What are some tips for those just going into university?
Got a mini series coming up on just this topic! Stay tuned!
What was your inspiration behind pursuing your PhD besides pleasing your family?
I'm not pursuing my PhD to please anyone in my family (although my grandfather is quick chuffed). I'm doing it because I want to, because I need to for the career I want, because I have so many research questions I want answered.
Did you publish any research during your MSc? Did you feel a lot of pressure to?
I didn’t publish during my MSc. Yes, I did feel pressured to do so, but to be honest I was more focused with just finishing. At one point during my MSc I was juggling two jobs, TFUI, speaking engagements, trying to have a social life in New Zealand, and a brand new marriage (that was pushed to the bring because my ex couldn't find a job for the first seven months). I tried to publish afterwards, but wasn't able to due to a number of reasons.
Financially, was going through school difficult?
I worked my butt off to get scholarships or stipends so I didn't go into debt for my education. (Obviously many people will also work their butts off and not have the same stroke of luck I have had) I did have to work through all of my degrees though to pay for accomodation,
How do you meet your financial goals but also feel okay to spend on yourself?
To be honest, I've really had a hard relationship with money because I've never really made much of it. Stipends don't pay much, neither does hospitality/retail. So instead of one job, I've had to juggle several to help me get by; it's taught me how to be resourceful but also be a bit of a budget queen.
It's a hard balance - enjoying your hard-earned money while saving for the future - but I believe that if you've hit your financial goals, then why not treat yourself?
How do you juggle finances and graduate school?
Got a mini series coming up on just this topic! Stay tuned!
AS ALWAYS, THANKS SO MUCH FOR SENDING IN YOUR GREAT QUESTIONS! BE SURE TO KEEP UP WITH MY INSTAGRAM STORIES TOWARDS THE END OF THE MONTH TO GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN FOR THE NEXT Q&A!
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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