As a wildlife biologist, author, educator, and founder of Fancy Scientist, I’m on a mission to help wildlife and people by teaching individuals just like you about animals, conservation, and science, and I empower and prepare aspiring and entry-level wildlife professionals so that they can secure good jobs in this competitive career and carry out their life's purpose.
I offer inspiration and hope to this “doom-and-gloom” field into your daily life so that we can collectively make a difference to helping wildlife and healing the planet.
Why the Fancy Scientist?
Hi, I’m Stephanie Manka, Ph.D. (formerly Schuttler)
When you think of science, wildlife, or conservation, probably the last thing you think about is being fancy.
I have always loved wildlife and nature. But I also have always loved dressing up, putting on makeup, and fashion.
When I was a young girl, I would get muddy looking for crayfish in creeks, and catch (and release) frogs and snakes, but I also played dress-up with my friends, trying on my mom’s clothes and makeup, and getting my Barbies glamorous for their dates.
I loved drawing and would draw scenes of grizzly bears catching salmon and on the next page a series of fashion designs.
When I found out about careers in wildlife biology, I was elated because I could finally turn my love of wildlife into a profession, but I quickly found out that I didn’t quite fit in.
Most people wore Tevas and brands like Columbia and Patagonia to work, which I love, but I reserved for the field. Instead, I wore dressy blouses, shoes with heels, and sparkly jewelry.
Hardly any of my colleagues wore any makeup at all, meanwhile I loved to experiment with different shades of eyeshadow every day.
In graduate school, although I loved dressing up and wearing makeup, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it because I was worried people were judging me or thinking I spent too much time on those things over science (which is not true).
Although I was fancier than most, I held back a lot, and quite honestly, didn’t feel that good. Not being able to wear colorful makeup and sparkles dampened my spirit and my confidence.
When I started my postdoc at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the work culture was different because I was now not only surrounded by scientists. I no longer felt uncomfortable embracing who I really was.
I started to dress up again and became happier and more confident. My postdoc included working with K-12 teachers and like most people, they did not expect a scientist, especially a wildlife biologist, to be wearing dangly earrings and mascara.
The teachers loved this and kept telling me how fancy and called me the fancy scientist.
I loved this name and embraced it full on. Because of my work in classrooms, I wanted to show kids, especially girls, that they don’t have to look a certain way to be in science.
I want them to see that they too can be a fancy scientist and feel comfortable expressing their own sparkle and shine.
working with the US government, zoos,
in academia, and alongside nonprofits
Years of education in the sciences: Bachelor’s and Ph.D. in biological sciences
animal behavior, mammal communities,
predator-prey relationships, non-invasive genetics, satellite telemetry, social science, and citizen/community science – full CV here
Continents conducted research on including the countries of Kenya, Gabon, India, Mexico, and Suriname
Number of network television shows featured on, including the Discovery, Science, and History Channels
As seen in...
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