Women of STEM

A profile series highlighting women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Kate Page, Biomedical Sciences Masters Graduate

Kate Page, Biomedical Sciences Masters Graduate

Kate Page, Biomedical Sciences Masters Graduate of Grand Valley State University

Connect with Kate on LinkedIn or Facebook, or via email (upon request from the page admin).

What did you conduct your master’s research on?

My thesis work involved trying to see if a crayfish’s sense of smell is damaged after being exposed to a common chemical.

Does what you are doing now relate to what you were interested in, as a child? How?

Yes! I love that I was able to use an aquatic animal for my project! Crayfish are basically tiny lobsters, and lobsters have always been one of my favorite animals. I’ve just always loved learning and figuring out how things work, why they work the way they do, etc. Of course, in research, answering one question always leads to about 20 more, so you’re never really finished!

How did you become interested in this type of work?

Science has always, always been a big passion of mine, especially marine biology. When I was a kid, my grandparents would take the family to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and something about that really stuck. Marine animals are just so fascinating!

Were you involved with science when you were a kid?

You bet! Science was always my favorite subject. I took summer science camp classes in elementary and middle school. I participated in Science Olympiad one year, and was on the Quiz Bowl team in high school. Sadly, summer science-themed activities weren’t as numerous when I was growing up as they are now. I would’ve loved to have done some of the workshops and classes they have now!

Do you have any movies, books, or other media to recommend?

Lots! This may surprise no one, but Finding Nemo is actually chock-full of facts about the animals, in addition to just being a really good movie. The stuff Mr. Ray sings about as he carries the students off to school is all real science. I remember learning about some of it in college.

I read mostly science books these days. One of my favorite books of all time is The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson. This is the book that made me want to go to grad school. It’s about lobsters from several different perspectives. There are the lobster fishermen in Maine (commercial perspective), the researchers studying them, and their behaviors (academic perspective), and a lot of info on their natural history.

Susan Casey’s book, The Devil’s Teeth, about the great white sharks that live around the Farallon Islands, was riveting. This would be a great one for anyone who is unsure of reading a “science book” for fear that it may be too boring, or too detailed. I promise you, it is none of those things!

Mary Roach is another fantastic science writer I enjoy! She manages to turn subjects you wouldn’t really think about (what happens after you die, what happens when you eat, how a mission to Mars is planned) into really fascinating topics. I could go on.

What kinds of challenges did you overcome to get to where you are now?

Looking back, affording college was a huge challenge. Since I knew I wanted to go to a school with a marine biology program, I would most likely be going to a college far away, and out of state (I grew up in the western Michigan area). I was raised by a very smart, single mom, who knew affording college was going to be hard from the get-go. She had high standards regarding school and grades, knowing good grades meant I’d be eligible for more college scholarships. When the time came, I applied for and received several generous scholarships, which made a previously un-affordable college, affordable. I like to think of that as a joint effort – I earned the scholarships, and she encouraged me the whole way.

What advice would you give a student looking to go into your field?

Work hard in school. If you have a college or university in your area, see if they offer summer workshops and classes for high school students. Volunteer at a zoo or aquarium, which also looks good when it comes to college applications and scholarships. Ask your teachers or parents if they know anyone in your field of interest and talk to them, if possible. Are there any job shadowing opportunities available? A lot of research organizations, zoos, and aquariums will offer summer camps. There probably won’t be one for high school students, but ask if you can be a junior counselor.

Last word?

Stay curious! Keep working hard, keep asking questions.

Erica Moulton, Independent Contractor

Erica Moulton, Independent Contractor

Tessie Offner, Non-native Species Biologist

Tessie Offner, Non-native Species Biologist