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#STEMStories: Tatiana, Science Writer and Communicator, USA

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do?

My name is Tatiana Eaves and I am a Science Writer and Communicator. For me, this has translated into a lot of different roles. My day job is on the editorial team of Science Advances, one of the journals within the Science Magazine family, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

I also write scientific articles for a few other publications. Today, that primarily includes Ricochet Science, a science education website published with McGraw Hill. Additionally, I work for the United States Geological Survey’s program, the Refugia Research Coalition (RRC), in scientific outreach and design. 

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I always knew I wanted to be a scientist, I just never knew what type. Ecology particularly fascinated me, I loved learning about the connections that exist within the natural world. I knew that for the rest of my life I wanted to learn more about the organisms around me. But, when I lived the life of a field ecologist during an internship I had at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, I realized that my favorite part of the science was getting other people who were previously disinterested, interested in my work or my organisms (caterpillars in this case). Also, I loved too many organisms to narrow it down to one field of research, so I didn’t. I started working on the Refugia Research Coalition after I applied for what was more of a science communication internship with the Virtual Student Federal Service and got it (and was hired part-time after the internship ended). Simultaneously, I applied for a job working as the first and only science writer for an up-and-coming journal Modern Treatise. I’ve always had a creative background in art, photography and writing, so these were really easy roles for me to fit into. Everything else just snowballed from there. 

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

I really love that I have the opportunity to experience so many things in one day. I read scientific research for a living. My goal when I was a young, pre-scientist was to learn something new every day and I have since accomplished that. Now, I get to stay up to date on the current hot research topics in fields like Ecology, Marine Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Medicine, Robotics, etc. Then, when I come home I am able to work on my projects within the Refugia Research Coalition and write articles on important scientific matters in a way that makes sense to the average person. I’m living my dreams in and out of the office. 

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

I am a nature person. I absolutely love sitting outside and feeling surrounded by trees and reminding myself that nature stops for no one. The flowers and the trees don’t care if I meet this deadline or talk with this person. Everything moves slowly, at its own pace, and is so much bigger than our little human microcosm that we persist within. That relaxes me. I like to hike, wade in rivers, close my eyes, and exhale the stress of the city away. Ridding myself of all the small problems that we always believe are so large and encompassing. 

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

I have many role models. I feel as if it is important to surround yourself with inspiring people, people that make you want to better yourself and that you not only look up to but that also support you and push you to be better. Especially for women in the scientific community. I am lucky enough to have met and have been supported by wonderful women. The first person that comes to mind is Toni Lyn Morelli, my supervisor at the Refugia Research Coalition. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is extremely intelligent, passionate, caring, and full of innovative ideas. Toni Lyn is such an influential ecologist and a wonderful friend to me. She has presented me with so many opportunities that have really aided me in figuring out where I wanted my path in science to lead. 

6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

I would have told myself to be careful who I choose to befriend in college. I was always a science girl but I wanted the fun college friends. They were only a distraction and always discouraged me from doing my work and pursuing my academic passions. They wanted me to go out all the time instead. This might sound terribly cliché for those of you in college now, but it really had an impact on how well I performed in school and how much I got out of it. I felt as if studying really hard was uncool, that I had to be faster or more discrete with my studies and hangout all the time to be accepted. I still performed well because I loved the subjects, but on the subjects I found most challenging, I didn’t put forth enough effort to learn them properly. Again, make friends that support your passions and want to see you succeed in life. I didn’t learn this until a bit after college how important a good community is for your career in science/mental health. 

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you what you are or are not capable of in this life. ANYONE can be a scientist if they put forth the effort and love the subject area enough.
  2. You will experience prejudices and sexism, it will happen. How you deal with it is the most important. Challenge people with preconceived misconceptions and instead of attacking the attacker, ask them why they feel a certain way or have made a certain comment. It will make them explain their sexism and not many people can survive that.
  3. Network Network Network. I’m not going to say a career in science is all about who you know, but it doesn’t hurt! Go to all events (even if you’re introverted, a lot of scientists are). Just having someone who’s seen your face before is important. Go to conferences, meetings, and presentations; make yourself seen in your scientific field. If you want advice on how to get to conferences, because some are expensive going the traditional route, please don’t hesitate to contact me I would love to help. 

8. How do you measure your success?

If I help someone to learn or care about something in the life sciences or in environmental policy that they either didn’t know anything about previously or had little care in, I feel accomplished. If my writing makes a difference to someone or I help someone in their career further themselves I am happy. I have simple wants I think.

9. Where can we find out more about your work?

I post links to all of my publications on my website EcologistSays.com and you can learn about the journal I work on the editorial staff for at advances.sciencemag.com. The Refugia Research Coalition is ClimateRefugia.com.

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? 

My website can be found here: EcologistSays.com. I am also on twitter @EcologistSays and instagram @A.virosa