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The underlying story

My very own Darwin-esque experience

 

First attending college on a path to medicine school, I found myself compelled by the opportunity to join a group of 16 students to the Galápagos Islands, an isolated microcosm of the story of life, where evolution was famously described by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. This archipelago, harboring a manageable number of living organisms awfully similar (but somehow very unique) to those found on the mainland 1000 kilometers Eastward, became the source of inspiration for a story that still informs our very interaction with biology and the development of differences between and within species, including humans!

Un iguane marin des Iles Galapagos

Spending a total of two months in the cradle of the theory of evolution fed an unexplored passion for telling stories about the wonders of our natural world. On one day of April 2016, days before leaving for another month-long trip in the Galápagos, I understood that a different path was lying ahead. This path was not going to be inside a medical practice, or doing work behind a laptop to generate new knowledge between suffocating university walls under blinding artificial light. I wanted to go out there, and tell stories about how much we know, and how there’s even more we don’t know about. I wanted to become the messenger behind the stories the living world can tell us about itself (and about ourselves) and the public. I wanted to become a science communicator.

What followed...

This moment, 7 years ago (at the time these lines were written), informed the multiple steps that eventually brought me on this path. From multiple projects that ended up being shared beyond my classroom at the time to insightful experiences working on building a local non-governmental agency chapter, I have refined and zeroed-in on where my efforts should go when it comes to communicating good science with a purpose to instill change in perceptions and actions.

SCB Biodiversity workshop (Photo cred: François Brassard)
Charles Plaisir à Orokonui Ecosanctuary


Following an undergrad in Ecology with a minor in Spanish studies in 2018, I boarded a plane to New Zealand, another fascinating land for its unique flightless avian and reptilian species, but even more so for its history of first human settlers, conservation work, and science communication initiatives. This 4-month hiatus between my undergraduate degree and my first M.Sc. field season in Australia truly helped identify the most important audience for science education initiatives: school children and families. 

Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Dunedin, New Zealand

While doing documentary production work in a local natural history production house, I also worked as a part-time educator in an ecological sanctuary: a fenced, 1.1 square kilometer area of native flora hosting a number of native bird species, most of which threatened by the numerous introduced predators scattered across the mainland. This is eventually what informed my enthusiasm for directing my work towards school-age children.

Un kiwi juvénile
A juvenile kiwi (Apteryx) in the Orokonui Ecosanctuary
Effects of rainfall, forage biomass, and population density, on survival and growth of juvenile kangaroos

As I crossed the Tasman Sea to start my first field season working on kangaroo population dynamics in the Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia, I learned the basics of large mammal population research with the intention of sharing it with an audience that goes beyond the scientific community. Through pictures, videos, and classroom animation, I slowly built a storyline for school children to learn more about what made kangaroos so interesting to me, even as a Canadian scientist. 

Fast forward two years later, I was graduating with a MSc in ecology and a number of short stories to share to whomever was interested to learn more about kangaroos. See the video above for a short sample of my communication work.

Dans ma classe de biologie, St Paul's School (NH)
In my biology classroom, St. Paul's School, Concord (NH)

On the tail end of the pandemic, I decided to return to my alma mater, St. Paul's School, as a UPenn teaching fellow, giving me the opportunity to teach biology and environmental science to kids from all over. I also acted as a soccer and hockey coach. This experience provided further foundations to my work aiming towards diverse audiences including school-age children. In my spare time, lots of wildlife photography helped me become more familiar with North American bird species, something I had longed for. 

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