Catching Up with STS – Meridith Edition

HELLO FRIENDS! It has been a long, tough year since Rachel and I have posted here on Sweet Tea, Science. We’ve tried to keep up with people via Twitter (Mer’s, Rach’s, and the STS accounts) and Instagram (again we all have one!) but we started feeling that blogging itch once more, so we’re back. We wanted to start with updates on our academic and personal lives, because this blog is about the science journeys of two actual living people. We’ve had some highs and lows. Some heart-breaking tragedies and some magical love-filled unions.

Summer 2017

This time last year I was enjoying the perks of summer in Colorado while exploring the in’s and out’s of working in an industry setting. I’ve had many summer adventures/internships/travels, but any work I’ve done has been 100% within the realm of academia. However, via a connection made through my advisor at the big statistics conference (Joint Statistical Meeting or JSM), I landed an internship at an environmental consulting agency. The further along I get in my studies the more certain I am I’d like to explore career options outside of academia; so this was an amazing opportunity.  

I worked with Neptune & Co., a small but growing environmental consulting company focusing on environmental decision making though quality assurance, data science, and risk assessment. As an intern, I helped the other statisticians working on a project modelling the future (millions of years future!) risks and impacts of nuclear waste storage around the US. I loved being able to learn about an important issue from experts in various fields while applying what I’ve been learning over the past few years in my PhD studies.

We focused on the biotic impact portion of the models and worked to use what precious few data are available to create some distributions for variable such as: plant root shape,root depth, burrow depths, etc. All of these factors can potentially bring up buried contaminants if the burrows or roots venture too deep. It’s important to represent these as distributions (e.g. a Normal distribution LINK) rather than a point estimate (e.g. a mean or median) because it allows for more representation of uncertainty in the model.

Also we did lots of hiking and took adorable photos!IMG_7278.jpg Continue reading “Catching Up with STS – Meridith Edition”

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Welcome to Sweet Tea, Science

Mt. St. Helens, Summer 2012

Let us start by first saying welcome! We are excited and proud to be launching the Sweet Tea, Science blog today. We are two scientists from Kentucky currently working on obtaining our PhDs.  Aside from academic pursuits, we are passionate about sharing our interests in various STEM topics, travel, and sustainable living. It is our hope that through Sweet Tea, Science we can share our knowledge, practice our communication skills, and learn from you!

Costa Rica, Winter 2007

In addition to being hysterical scientists, we are also real life friends! We met in 2005 at Western Kentucky University where we both obtained a BS in Biology with concentrations in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation. Meridith is an overachiever, and also has a minor in mathematics! During our time at WKU (go Tops!), we both completed Honor’s theses and graduated from WKU’s Honors College.  While in college we studied (we took pretty much every biology class together), traveled (numerous Central and South American countries, Africa, Michigan…), and adventured together (everything is an adventure!).  After graduating, we continued to learn and explore as a team, and now we are tackling the blogging world as a dynamic duo.

Florida, Spring 2007

Meridith went on from WKU to study algae cultivation for biofuel production at New Mexico State University for her Masters in Wildlife Science, with a minor in Applied Statistics. Again, overachiever. Her blog and Facebook page, Always A Scientist, started in early 2012 as part of an application to HiSEAS. Meridith continued with the blog off and on for two years, enjoying it immensely, but never fully committing to posts. She is currently about to start her PhD in Statistics and looks forward to the opportunity to apply stats to ecological systems.  Rachel went from WKU to sunny southern California to work on a Masters in Biology at California State University, Long Beach.  She completed her degree in the summer of 2012 and moved on up the coast to the central valley to tackle a PhD! Similar to Meridith, Rachel started her blog, Practical Ecologist, in November of 2012 and really enjoyed it, but didn’t have the time to commit to it like she really wanted.  What were two lady scientists to do?

Grand Canyon, Spring 2010

In November 2013, we decided to combine our powers and create a new blog (and associated media) to share our passions and interests. By working together on this endeavor we hope we can stay motivated and provide more consistent content for our readers. We envision this blog as a way to share longer posts about STEM-related topics, advice for students, peaks into life as a graduate student, fun science-y projects, insights into sustainable practices, and snapshots of how the process of science works.  We imagine our audience to be diverse and include people generally interested in science (everyone?), those who want to explore science with their kids or friends, college students, and aspiring graduate students seeking advice.  We will share shorter content via Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow us on all the things!

South Africa, Summer 2008

With that being said, we also want to hear from you about your interests, questions, and requests. What topics would you like us to cover and how? All the content from our old blogs can be found on this website, so feel free to give is a look over and tell us things you like or dislike.  Do you need help in any of your classes and think we could explain a concept more in depth? Are you looking to plan a fun vacation and want some amazing science or nature related activities included? Let us know! We are also eager to find guest contributors of all ages.