Angelica Patterson, Phd
Educator, Plant Ecophysiologist, Science Communicator, Black Rock Forest
Columbia University/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
"The Shotgun Scientist" gathers oak leaves to learn about the future of New York's Black Rock Forest, and plans ahead by introducing young people to the wild woods.
Angie attended a summer high school program at Cornell University that gave her a taste of college life -- and inspired her to try astronomy.
OVER HER HEAD:
The university sent a sample freshman schedule -- and Angie simply copied it, taking too many courses. She ended up failing a few, and found herself on academic probation. She called her mother, crying, and her mother asked if she wanted to come home. "No, no!" I said. "I just need to find out what I want to do." After that, she took anthropology, psychology, and more, exploring new science courses -- while retaking the ones she'd failed to make up her grades. Along the way, she encountered conservation biology. It was her Eureka moment.
Angie's study site, Black Rock Forest, in New York State, hosts field trips and other programs for kids in nearby cities and towns. Find out more here. And check parks in your own area for similar experiences, free to kids.
As a kid, Angie was involved in 4-H and the Girl Scouts of America (she earned her Gold Award), and competed in the Science Olympiad.
More IWAK next steps here.
Making a living:
Not only did Angie find her field of study, but she learned that she could get paid to work in the greenhouses and labs, helping her mentors with their research She also took a paid internship catching and raising salmon in Lake Ontario, and another studying wildlife in the desert of Arizona.
During graduate school, Angie took time away from her studies to care for her sick mother. To make ends meet, she set school aside and worked as a lab manager. Later, Angie felt she had an advantage over other students because of her managerial experience. And working at the university allowed her to take classes for free.
INTO THE WOODS:
Find out why Angie is known as the Shotgun Scientist here.