Why is one of the most important types of questions any scientist asks. Why do apples fall when I drop them? Why does the temperature decrease the higher I go up a mountain? Why do I find this Spruce tree on the north side of the mountain, but not the south?
Asking and answering why questions is a critical aspect of being a scientist, so, it is only natural that I ask: why am I a scientist? Why do have a passion for science, particularly biology and ecology? Why have these drawn me in so much that I’ve decided to dedicate my life to studying them? Looking back at my life’s winding road that has led to pursuing a PhD at the University of Massachusetts I can see four main influences that have shaped who I am today:
Time spent outside:
First, let me clarify here, some people spent a lot more time out in woods and wildernesses as kids than I did. I rarely went camping, my dad didn’t teach me to fish as a boy, and I’ve never been hunting. Nevertheless, the time reading books up in the branches of the pine by our driveway, catching frogs in streams and ponds, searching for snakes in the woods, and later, hiking and fishing was special time where I developed a relationship with nature. Without a love and appreciation for the outdoors borne of experiences and relationship with nature, I never would have become who I am now.