Trainee Spotlight

Ally Brown, originally from Louisville, Kentucky, followed an interest for Marine Science that brought her to the east coast to University of South Carolina for her undergraduate degree. She was part of their GeoScholar Scholarship Program at UofSC as a 1st generation college student. There she received her bachelor’s in Marine Chemistry. During a research educational undergraduate (REU) program, Ally had a unique opportunity to go the Galapagos Islands. While visiting, there were massive floods affecting the drinking water of this mostly rural community dependent on eco-tourism. She saw firsthand the impacts of weather-hazards on the disparate communities that didn’t understand the effects of climate change.  Ally returned to campus wanting to work as a climate communication liaison spreading awareness of climate change and its impacts. Fortunately, Ally met a teacher, Dr. Ryker, when she worked in her geology lab, that explained how she could combine her degree in marine chemistry and passion for teaching climate change impacts with a secondary degree in Geoscience Education. Geoscience Education is how people learn about earth science concepts. Ally discovered a love for Geoscience Education with a new goal to be a professor in it. Thus, she knew she wanted to pursue her PhD next. Her mentors at UofSC introduced her to Dr. Karen McNeal, a geoscience education researcher and professor that was just launching the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program at Auburn University focusing on climate resilience. Ally’s alignment to the NRT program’s focus helped her became one of the first Trainees, pursing a PhD in Earth System Science under the advisement of Dr. McNeal. Ally identified she wanted to use eye-tracking software in her research that in her words is “super cool”. Her interested is in its application to do inclusion work, a passion of hers as a 1st generation college student. Ally is currently co-producing a research project for NASA and Columbia University to analyze the effectiveness of their web-tool, Easy Global Climate Model Project (EzGCM) with undergraduate students. Ally is helping to measure the usability and how much the undergrads are learning via non-invasive eye-tracking to improve the website and its useful interface simulation for students. When asked about her dream job, Ally is still undecided, interested in both a future as professor or as a lead external evaluator for a company like Geoscholar  that provides geoscience education and expertise on land and hydro surveying, mapping, geospatial science, engineering and legal land ownership. Like her former teacher, Dr. Ryker, once suggested, with Geoscience Education she could do both.
Ally Brown Researching on Galapagos Islands