I grew up exploring a small creek near my home in Virginia. It was there that I discovered frogs, tadpoles, water beetles, leeches, fish and snails. Ever since then, I've been fascinated with aquatic ecosystems. In college I began to learn about the many threats that face these ecosystems and their animal inhabitants. I am currently working on my graduate research at the University of Illinois, continuing a lifelong passion to understand aquatic ecosystems and ways that we can protect them.