A Conversation with …

… Bridget about her research and why she is involved with STEM outreach.

What is your current position?

I’m currently a postdoc (researcher) in Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Where did you go to college?

I majored in biological engineering at Cornell University.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brookfield, CT; a very small town about an hour and a half from New York City.

What was your favorite subject in high school?

Why pick just one? I’ve always loved both science and history.

Who is your STEM role model?

After my postdoc, I want to be a college professor. Prof. Desiree Plata, who I met at Yale and is now at MIT, has been one of my most important mentors in applying for faculty jobs and my inspiration for “what I want to be when I grow up.”

What is the focus of your research?

I study the viruses, bacteria, and fungi that also live in our homes. Some of these “microbes” can make us sick, but most are harmless or even beneficial to our health. By understanding the difference, I will help ensure that buildings are designed in a way to promote the beneficial microbes and keep us healthier. Favorite part of being a scientist (or coolest part of your job?): The best thing about being a researcher is when an experiment finally works!

Why did you pick a STEM major?

I decided to major in engineering because I wanted to be able to get a job right after college. While in undergrad, I discovered that I love research and decided that I wanted to go to grad school to be able to continue to do research and get a job where I can shape the direction my research takes. Through being a grad school, I realized that I love the academic setting and hope to promote increased diversity in engineering as a professor.

What is your favorite part about doing STEM outreach?

I love working with students who are already passionate about science and answering all of their questions. However, it is particularly rewarding when I’m able to help a student who didn’t think science was “for” them become excited about the activity I’m leading or realize that science is so much more than what they had been exposed to in school.

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m a black belt in taekwondo.

For more information about Bridget’s research and outreach, check out her website.

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