Meet Michelle Barboza, professor of geology

"Hi! I'm Em (they/she) and I am a queer latinx scientist/professor from LA. I have a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Geology, with a focus on Vertebrate Paleontology and Women's Studies; and I've spent most of my student life and professional career working in higher ed and museums.

My paleontology research focused on terrestrial Miocene mammals, but while I loved spending time alone in the collections rooms surrounded by bones, I realized that my real passion was talking to people (specifically, non scientist people) about science! As a kid, and even into college, I did NOT like science, let alone plan to pursue a career in science. But thanks to a required science class in undergrad, I found out that digging for fossils and spending your days outdoors making maps was an actual paying job... so I changed my major, and here I am nearly a decade later, declaring my love for bone and stone and the natural world to anyone who will listen!

In the world of higher education, I love teaching introductory geoscience courses, because I catch so many students in the same place I once was - and I don't need to convince a student to change majors, just to spark a curiosity for science and the confidence to explore on their own. The same goes for the world of museums and informal education, where you are given the chance to do the same - but often with just a one time interaction between yourself and a guest! It's an exciting challenge that bears just as much importance, as these are times we can reach out to communities who are met with barriers to access formal education. (For some fun outreach projects using cosplay and pop culture to teach science, check out the work of my team at @CosplayforScience - cofounded by fellow minorities in STEM!)"

- Michelle Barboza (they/she)

Instagram: @michellembarboza

Twitter: @latinxscientist