Scientist. Woman Aquanaut. Educator. Public Servant.
- Water Resources Advisory Board (WRAB), City of Boulder, 2014 – current Chair. Advise the City Council on the Water Utilities including the annual Capital Improvement Program.
- Foothills United Way (FHUW), Community Impact Committee, 2014 – current Chair. Committee developed new grant funding model for FHUW and makes recommendations to the Board on the four grant opportunities.
- Colorado Science Education Network (CSEN), current Steering Committee Chair. CSEN provides professional development to the state’s K-12, higher education and informal science educators.
- Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO):
- Education and Human Resources Committee, Chair 2004 – 2007, Member 2007 – 2012
- Public Policy Committee Member, 2013 - current
- ASLO Fellow awarded for service to the Association, 2017
Welcome, and thank you for taking time to learn more about me! Thirty years as a scientist and educator at CU, eight years of public service on my local school board, and a pioneering experience as the first woman aquanaut in the underwater Aquarius research facility have prepared me to take on the challenges facing the CU system. I am honored and ready to vigorously pursue the opportunity to serve our wonderful state as your CU Regent at Large.
My passion for all things marine began with countless hours spent combing coastal tide pools as a child. I knew science would be my life’s work as I toiled during a 24-hour study of University of California Santa Barbara’s lagoon. Our professor encouraged a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to science as we explored streams tumbling down the foothills. No matter what their passion, I hope each student at CU has a learning experience that lights the way to their future.
After graduating from UCSB (Aquatic Biology, 1980) I earned a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. For one year, I spent three weeks every month living and working on a floating lab in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon. Along with my research I planned the monthly expeditions and oversaw on-the- ground operations for a multi-million dollar project, hired and supervised local staff, and took care of the financial records, all in a foreign language with a currency running at 1000% annual inflation. My wonderful Brazilian staff taught me the value of a multicultural team. I went to Brazil as a young graduate student, and came back as an experienced leader with a new nickname, Chefa (boss lady).
While writing my dissertation at UMD I had the honor to be the first woman aquanaut in NOAA’s underwater research habitat, Aquarius. Only a few women worked at UMD’s marine labs and I was the only one selected to join the aquanaut team, where I lived underwater and conducted research on coral reefs for a week. I’m grateful for the amazing research opportunities I had as scientist, and I am determined to get more women, minorities and non-traditional students engaged in science, technology, engineering and math.
My 30-year career at CU began in 1989 with a Visiting Scientist Fellowship at CU Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES). I fell in love with Colorado, and shortly thereafter I fell for my husband, Michael. Boulder has been our home ever since and is where we’ve raised our two now-grown children.
Although I loved working in the field as a research scientist, I also wanted to share the joy of inquiry-based scientific exploration and discovery with students, so I jumped at the opportunity to teach an intensive 3-week Lake and Stream Ecology field class at CU’s Mountain Research Station. I taught there for 10 summers and my students often expressed that my class was the hardest class they had endured, but they never had learned so much – music to my ears!
I am currently Associate Director of Education & Outreach for CIRES, the largest research institution at CU. I have raised more than $7M in grant money from the National Science Foundation to bring science alive in classrooms with professional development support for rural and Front Range teachers, and fellowship support for science graduate students to partner with teachers in BVSD. I direct the Research Experience for Community College Students program that prepares students from across Colorado to be successful in four-year STEM degree programs. We are proud of our first alum who is now pursuing a graduate degree at UC Denver. I will retire from CU in April in focus all my time and energy on fighting for affordable, accessible pathways to success for all our CU students.
Like so many citizen leaders, I took on leadership because of the personal impacts of public education policy on my family and community. In 2005, I decided to run for the Board of Education and won a contested seat to a non-salaried board that sets the vision of the district; ensures financial responsibility and stability; and hires and oversees the superintendent, very similar to the role of CU’s Board of Regents. During my eight years of service on the school board, I managed a $300 million budget, increased community trust and engagement, and helped strengthen funding for public education. Despite the 2008 recession, which cut $34 million from the budget, the district’s financial health remained strong during my tenure. I am a champion of public education, and I understand the importance of strong funding and wise management of funds.