Kiley Friedrich has been with the Gratton lab for over a year now, working on projects with Rachel, Emma, Tania, and Brian. This fall she starts her MS in Agroecology/Entomology and will be working on pollinators and biofuels. Kaitlin recently chatted Kiley up about her background and hopes for her degree.
Where did you grow up?
I grew in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is where I fell in love with fresh water. I spent a lot of my childhood on lakes in the area and at my family’s orchard on near the Mississippi River. However, now I mistakenly think that if I’m facing East, I should hit Lake Michigan eventually.
What was your first experience with science?
I think my first ‘science’ experience was born out of my environmental education experiences. During college, I was a Crew Leader for Minnesota Conservation Corps. In this position, I was tasked with getting a group of teenagers to care about the environment as we worked on various conservation and restoration projects. It was the first time that I was able to see the applied element of ecological work. All of what we were doing was aiding water quality, habitat, and overall ecosystems health. It drove me to want to answer some of the more scientific questions related to ecology.
Who is one of your mentors?
One of my most inspiring mentors has been my professor, Julia Nerbonne. Although she began her career as a Conservation Biologist, she came into my life during my semester in HECUA’s Environmental Sustainability program as one of the most passionate teachers I have ever had. She showed me what it really means to be an engaged citizen and how we can use scientific investigation to inform the way we all relate in the world. Her never-ending curiosity for how and where we can make a positive difference in the world is truly motivational.
What are you most excited about in starting your Masters in Agroecology/Entomology?
It may sound corny but I am most excited for the challenge. Experimental design is fascinating, and I’m looking forward to figuring out all the details – from the broadest of project goals to the smallest of inventory questions. I’ve missed being surrounded by academia and there’s so much to learn.
What’s your favorite thing about fieldwork?
My favorite thing about fieldwork is easily spending my whole day outside. All those months in the lab really make you appreciate the fresh air – even the rainy days. Also, I really enjoy getting to know the growers and landowners we work with when we run into them during fieldwork.
So I hear you had 15 minutes of fame on the radio.
HA. It was a short 15 minutes. In the lab, we have lots of time to listen to podcasts while processing samples from the field season. One of my favorites is NPR’s “How To Do Everything.” I emailed the producers to thank them for the entertaining podcast and suddenly, I was a guest on the show. I was prepped and ready to discuss the relevance of the work we do in the Gratton Lab but wound up talking about what it’s like to pet a fuzzy bumble bee. It was funny. But hey, I was on NPR!