Meet Jennifer Riehl, Scientific Teaching Fellows Alum

Jennifer Riehl was a WISCIENCE Scientific Teaching Fellow in 2018 while completing postdoctoral research training studying the genomics of plant-insect interactions. Today, she is an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow hosted at the National Science Foundation. Her professional experience is intentionally multifaceted and collaborative, spanning ecological genetics/genomics to natural resource management. In her new position, she is helping build a more convergent and inclusive space for wildfire science research and education through data analysis and orchestrating community building events.

Outside of work, one of her biggest interests is traveling to new places and exploring. In particular, she loves hiking and identifying plants and writing naturalist posts about her explorations (@jenn.lind.riehl). She’s currently working on a multi-year project with her family to go to all the Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests. She also loves reading and watching movies, yoga, and spending time with friends and family.

What was your favorite part of the Scientific Teaching Fellows program?

The structure of the program was my favorite part. I loved how we learned, created, and then put our knowledge and curriculum into practice. The collaborative nature of this process was also very educational.

What is something surprising or unexpected you experienced as a Fellow? 

I think the most unexpected thing I experienced as a Fellow was a sense of community. I was using the scientific thinking skills I had been taught during my PhD, but in a community context. I think it taught me to think differently about how I approach building and fostering team-based and collaborative science in general as well as teaching and outreach.

How have you applied the skills and knowledge from this program in your career?

I have carried the lessons I learned about how scientific thinking is really a way to move through the world, whether you are doing science, teaching, working with the public, or assessing claims in day to day life. And I also think that as a direct result of my experience in this program, my appreciation has grown for collaborative work and building one another up by complementing skill sets, while also reducing the feelings of having to know it all. These are basic tenets I take into all my professional interactions to this day. And now I find myself helping build that same sense of community among other researchers.

What excites you about teaching? 

Science is for everyone. Scientific thinking is for everyone. You don’t have to be or want to be a scientist to appreciate the value of developing and having those critical thinking skills.

What advice do you have for new Fellows coming into this program? 

Lean into the community that is created by this program; you will learn so much from your colleagues, peer leaders, and the students. Don’t be afraid to mess up, because you are in a place where that is very much a part of the process. You will come out of the experience a more thoughtful and holistic person.

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Scientific Teaching Fellows