Unique Scientist: Hayley Bricker

Time to meet Hayley Bricker (She/her)! Hayley is a geochemist at the University of California Los Angeles in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a biogeochemist working with terrestrial snails to study past climate and environmental signals. I often joke that I am an accidental malacologist (study of slugs & snails) because I work so closely with the little creatures. My research also utilizes mass spectrometry, so I am often sitting behind the controls for one of our machines, affectionately named ‘Chewbacca.’ My goal is to create a global survey of terrestrial snails that can indicate small-scale climatic changes over the course of the last 40,000 years.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I was persuaded by a close friend to join my high school’s science bowl team during my senior year. I was the Astronomy & Geology Chair, and spent about 10 months studying both of those subjects. Within the first few months, I completely fell in love with astronomy and planetary science, and made up my mind to attend university in those subjects. During my first few quarters in college, though, I began to feel an intense level of environmental grief and decided that I needed to shift my focus to environmental science.

“I think that my comfort with writing and telling stories has taught me to piece together scientific concepts in a storyboard-like fashion, and has taught me to see things from an interdisciplinary perspective.”

Hayley Bricker

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
Before I decided to be a scientist, I wanted to be a journalist. I have always had a strong preference for the written word and expressing myself via creative writing. I think that my comfort with writing and telling stories has taught me to piece together scientific concepts in a storyboard-like fashion, and has taught me to see things from an interdisciplinary perspective.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I’m an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer! I’m working on gaining more knowledge about tracking objects and teaching myself how to take half-decent photos of my favorite celestial objects.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
That the culture of science hadn’t evolved from a place of prestige and exclusivity to begin with.

“While I don’t necessarily want to be a research professor, Dr. Tripati has given me an example of the kind of mentor I’d like to grow into.”

Hayley Bricker

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My faculty mentor and PI, Dr. Aradhna Tripati, has been my absolute inspiration since I started working for her. I admire her work ethic, her openness, and her steadfast mission to create an inclusive STEAM community. While I know the work hasn’t been easy, it’s really encouraging to see a professor place so much emphasis on diversity and inclusion work as well as their own research. While I don’t necessarily want to be a research professor, Dr. Tripati has given me an example of the kind of mentor I’d like to grow into.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I gave a small meteorite talk to a group of middle school aged girls, and they were completely ecstatic to be able to hold and learn about a piece of space. Moments like these remind me why I’m a science communicator and that there are people in the world who are genuinely excited about science.


#WomenInSTEM, #QueerInSTEM

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