Team Member Spotlight: Erica L. Chenoweth

Want to get to know the people behind the curtain a little bit better? Tune in to our “team member spotlight” series! You’ll meet the people who make SciStarter work and learn what makes them tick. One thing we all have in common? A love for citizen science. This week, we’re featuring Erica L. Chenoweth.

Erica L. Chenoweth

Contact email erica.lchenoweth@gmail.com

Title at SciStarter Volunteer, Social Media

Twitter Handle @EricaChenny

Role at SciStarter I help manage the SciStarter Facebook media stream, have contributed to the Citizen Science Calendar project, and generally try to promote SciStarter wherever I go! I’m excited to raise awareness in Alaska about the many citizen science programs available through the platform.

Professional Experience Since 2012, I’ve been a Fishery Biologist at the Gene Conservation Laboratory of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, providing support on population genetics projects and publications, most recently specializing on seaweed and crab species in addition to pacific salmon. I also help with lab website updates and maintenance when not analyzing genetic data. From 2008-2011, I served at the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve in Homer, Alaska, partnered with the Department of Fish and Game Division of Sport Fish program, specializing in marine science education and assisting researchers with field work on a diverse array of projects, in addition to helping create several photo/video products for the department. I also greatly enjoyed being a research and technology assistant on the NSF-funded Native American Science Curriculum project from 2010-11.

Why citizen science? I was attracted to citizen science opportunities as my professional responsibilities shifted. I’ve become specialized and spend more time in a laboratory setting than I do outdoors. I am inspired and excited when I learn about the work other scientists are engaged in, both outside and online, but since I can’t be a specialist in every field, my ability to contribute to their work is limited. Citizen science is the perfect avenue for me to flex my scientist muscles across disciplines. I also love working with new people who are curious and interested in the world around us.

Part of SciStarter’s mission or work/project that resonates most The first part, about making connections! SciStarter brings together millions of citizen scientists worldwide and thousands of researchers and their projects. There are so many talented, vibrant, creative people out there, and I view SciStarter as a fantastic user-friendly, flexible, accessible platform that empowers and connects them at many different levels. It’s all about making connections and creating a supportive community for quality research and science literacy.

Something people might find surprising I was on the professional music track for twelve years before switching to science; I spent several years as a research assistant for a professor in the political science department on the writings of Winston Churchill while finishing my degree; and I love live theater, having attended the Earth Matters on Stage conference in Alaska last spring.

Favorite place to do citizen science Alaska! I love that I can alternate from inside to outside work. When the weather is bad, I’m happy to log on to a project from my couch, but when there’s an exciting project happening outside, I can join in too, like birding at Westchester Lagoon.

What do you hope to accomplish in citsci? I’d like to continue raising awareness of the many opportunities that exist for exploratory learning partnered with real research. I think many people are ready to get curious, get involved, and organically become more scientifically literate and connected to each other and the natural world, but they’re not always sure how to do it. I hope to help engage and empower communities in Alaska especially; there are tools being developed that they can use to contribute to the research informing science policy that directly affects their future. I’m also going to continue being an active participant in projects myself and keep having fun!  

Project in the SciStarter directory enjoyed recently There are several projects I really enjoy and try to contribute to regularly, but one of my favorites is Steller Watch! It’s an ongoing population monitoring project and they just returned from their summer field season with thousands of images taken of shoreline in the Aleutian Islands, where I have yet to visit. The seascapes in the images are beautiful, even if there aren’t any sea lions to characterize in them.

Categories: About Us, Staff Spotlight

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About the Author

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline Nickerson is a Master of Public Policy student at American University with a focus on environmental and climate change policy. She is passionate about science communication in the policy space and engaging citizens and voters. Caroline currently serves as secretary on the national board of the Commission on Local Debates (localdebates.org), an emerging nonprofit seeking to leverage technology to make debates for local elections better and more accessible. She also works as a textbook and curriculum development consultant for the University of Florida Psychiatry Department. In her role there, she is a project manager for the Christensen Project, which honors and furthers Dr. Richard C. Christensen's legacy of advocating for homeless and under-served individuals.