Financial Stability in Academia

A lot of people don’t know this, but life in academia is a financially risky business. You do get
paid during graduate school and your tuition is waived, but quite often your stipend is barely livable (and varies according to field). I watched my friends skate the poverty line and read twitter discussions of students having to take out food stamps…

Science is Not Always Pretty

I’m leading a summer science communication workshop for interns that I’ve been part of for the last four years. This week, we took a deeper dive into social media platforms, especially Twitter and Instagram. I tried something new; I asked the Twitterverse who they thought did #scicomm (science communication) really well and I projected some of the accounts. There was a range of accounts that people defined as successful, from those having less than 1,000 followers to those with 100K+. While I understand the number of followers is only one aspect of scicomm “success”, it’s an easy metric, and if you are trying to preach beyond the choir (one of my goals), you do need to reach the masses…

Storytelling Tips for Scientist

Science has a communication problem. After attending the AAAS meeting this year, it was clear that great efforts were being spent to improve this. Scrolling through my Twitter feed, I would scan tweet after tweet with suggestions on how to improve one’s presentations. One tip, popping up over and over again amongst tweets, was the use of stories…

Behind the Paper: Finding Friendships in Secretive Elephants

Despite being the largest land animals, two species of wild elephant still have many mysteries. Even today, where you can connect with people across the world in seconds, where we have Google images of every corner of the planet, there are still unexplored mysteries. One of these mysterious species is the African forest elephant, recently declared a separate species in 2010…

Treasures from the Deep: Behind the Scenes at the Museum

I cannot even tell you how many times I have been to the Buffalo Museum of Science. As a young girl, we frequented there approximately once a month on Sundays as part of our family day together. I loved it. I can remember the endangered species exhibit where stand next to a life-size rhino replica. I remember the traveling exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. My favorite though was the dioramas. Capturing a moment in time, you could look into the secret world of animals as an unobtrusive observer for as long as you wanted.

What to Expect When Interviewing for Ecology and Conservation Jobs

Graduate school often focuses on prepping students for a career in academia, and largely ignores those who chose “alternative” careers. Not having been in the job market since 2004, it can be difficult to know what to expect, especially at a new level (post Ph.D.). When I applied for jobs before, I searched general job interview questions on career websites such as Now, as I have become much more specialized and experienced, it can be tough to find information on what questions to expect on interviews for science-based careers.

Advice for a Career in Wildlife Biology and Conservation in a Competitive Market

Wildlife biology has changed immensely in the past few decades. Some of the professors that I worked with for my Ph.D. had calculated statistical results for analysis by hand! The rise of computing power and sophisticated analytics have transformed this field; scientific knowledge and expertise alone is no longer enough for most jobs, and modeling skills and quantitative analyses are what is desired. I believe I went to graduate school during a time of such great transition…

Why I Use Instagram for Science Outreach

Lots of people have been asking for my response to the recent Science magazine opinion piece “Why I don’t use Instagram for science outreach,” so here it is. I never felt like wildlife biology (my field of science) was for people like me. As a young girl, wildlife content was geared towards hunters or whimsical (e.g. unicorns, ponies). My first years in grad school, I came in as “me” with make-up on and business casual clothes – not even that fancy, but I increasingly felt like I didn’t belong…

The Ajay Bruno Show – Stephanie Schuttler Interview

How did I become a scientist? How do YOU become a scientist? What was my scariest animal encounter? What was it like to be on What on Earth? Find out the answers to these questions and more in my interview with Ajay Bruno.

The ABC’s of Elephant DNA

Forest elephants defecate roughly 17-20 times a day, making it an accessible source of information. Traditionally, dung has been used to study diet. Forest elephants consume hundreds of species of plants, either as fruits, bark, or leaves, and sorting through dung piles gives scientists’ detailed information on what they are eating. More recently, scientists have used dung to obtain DNA. But how do scientists get DNA from dung?