I am an educator and research scientist striving to engage and excite the next generation of scientists in research. I grew up in the wild outdoors in Alaska, where moose hunkered down in our yards and filleting salmon quickly became a biology lesson. My entire scientific career has focused on using simple biological model organisms to study complex biomedically problems. During my PhD at the University of California, San Francisco I studied a single-celled green algae to explore the protein make-up of a centriole (a small organelle within all of our cells). Through this process we determined that a large number of human disease proteins are conserved and important for creating a centriole. As a postdoctoral fellow, I studied how a simple fruit fly can be used to study the complexities of neurodegeneration (and yes flies do have brains). I now have my own lab at a teaching university with very little funding for the sciences but this does not deter me from conducting and teaching research and being generally excited about how amazing biology is.