I grew up in the 1960s and 70s near Stony Creek, a small brook in southeastern Pennsylvania. The water brimmed with fish and minnows, which I brought home in paper cups as specimens to pore over. Maybe it was the splashing around in the creek or the creepy-crawly treasures I found under the rocks, but this and other outdoor experiences fostered an interest in animals, mostly of the aquatic variety, which stayed with me until I chose a major in college.

A love of science can come from any experience. But for many of us, these experiences and opportunities narrow as we mature. As an undergrad at Pennsylvania State University in the early 1980s, graduate school seemed not only safe and familiar; it seemed like the only choice I had, because I knew I wanted to stay in science. I didn't even think to explore other possibilities, until later.


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