Lesley received her B.S. in Biological Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2012 where she competed on the track team and was involved in line dancing and rodeo. In 2017 Lesley completed her M.S. in Chemistry from South Dakota State University while teaching full-time. She graduated in 2022 with a Doctorate in Science and Mathematics K-12 Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. Lesley moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow with the Library of Congress. She now works for the U.S. Antarctic Program as a Science Planner.
Lesley's research experiences are what have driven her toward inquiry in the classroom and project-based learning. As an undergraduate, Lesley assisted a research team that tracked rattlesnakes on the Carrizo Plains to study their home ranges. She also helped with American bullfrog eradication in ponds in San Luis Obispo county to protect the endangered red-legged frog.
In 2011, Lesley was a part of a research team that tagged and tracked breaching great white sharks off the coast of South Africa. She also worked as an aquarist and cetacean monitor tracking whale and dolphin migrational patterns as a result of installation of a desalination plant.
Lesley spent the summers of 2013-14 working as a data analyst for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She helped to create an archival database for Arctic sea ice thickness through computer programming. During her research experience at JPL, she met the project managers for Mars Science Laboratory, SMAP (Soil Moisture Active-Passive) Satellite, and the LDSD (Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator) for the Mars 2020 mission and took a tour of the clean room to watch the assembly of SMAP. All of these opportunities provided inspiration for lessons in her classroom and serve as the foundation for her desire to bring real world experiences to students.
In the summer of 2015, Lesley worked for NOAA at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division conducting sea turtle genetics research. The partnership with scientists at NOAA got her connected to SeaWorld and the Hubbs Research Institute that collaborates with Rising Tide Conservation. This organization works to discover the key to breeding ornamental fish in captivity and they have partnered with the High Tech High Ichthyology Program, enabling students to conduct real scientific research in partnership with actual scientists.
In 2016 and 2017 as Lesley worked on lab course work for her masters of science in chemistry, she became more intrigued with climate change research in the polar regions. At the lab in South Dakota, she worked with ice core samples from Greenland and Antarctica, analyzing ion concentrations in different levels of the ice to create a climate record. This work fascinated her and she discovered her passion for the stories of field scientists working on the ice.
In December of 2017, Lesley embarked on a scientific expedition of a lifetime by trekking down to Antarctica with a research team investigating the elusive ghost particle known as a neutrino. At the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station she met astrophysicists from around the world who are collaborating on this important science that will provide information about how our universe was created. For more information about this expedition visit: bit.ly/LesleySouthPole