Student Features

Text Size

World of Opportunity
Who Are NASA's Earth Explorers?

The elementary school student wondering how El Niño will affect tomorrow's weather. The scientist studying connections between ozone and climate change. And the farmer using satellite pictures to keep track of crops. All of these people are Earth Explorers -- they are all curious about the Earth system. This monthly series will introduce you to NASA Earth Explorers, young and old, with many backgrounds and interests.

How did a place Camille Daniels never went to get her interested in science? How does Erica Holloman plan to reach out to those younger than her? Earth Explorers has the answers to these and other questions.

Daniels and Holloman both take part in the MS PHD'S® program. MS PHD'S® stands for "Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science." The program is sponsored by NASA. It helps college and graduate students start their careers in Earth system science.

Camille Daniels
Meet Camille Daniels

Camille Daniels is a student at the University of South Florida. She's working on a master's degree in marine sciences. Her research focuses on the health of coral reefs.

Image to right: Camille Daniels is a college student who is studying to be a scientist. Credit: NASA

How did she become interested in science?

Her grandfather lived in the Virgin Islands. She never had the chance to visit him there. But her father did. He would return with pictures of amazing blue water. The only other place she saw water that blue was in the swimming pool. This is what started her interest in science and the ocean.

What does she like best about her work?

She likes that it is both challenging and satisfying. Even though the work may be hard, she knows that it will lead to a better understanding of the environment. It will also lead to a better understanding of how the environment impacts people. Another plus is being able to work with and get advice from other scientists.

What subjects in school have helped her the most?

She says that any type of math was number one for her. English, although not really her favorite, was also important. It helped her to better communicate. It also helped her develop a respect for literature. In college, she took a course in audio recording. That class was a great way to combine science, math, music and teamwork, she says.

What are her career goals?

She hopes to earn a Ph.D. from the University of South Florida. This degree will be in biological oceanography. From then on, she would like to work with scientists around the world. She hopes to work on many projects that deal with the health of coral reefs.

Who were her role models growing up?

She says that her parents were her role models. They taught her that a person who is informed can be unstoppable. They also taught her that an education is key.

What advice does she have for other minority women interested in science?

She says that walking into a class of 300 people and finding only one or two who look like you can be scary. Her advice is to find a good mentor. A support network is also key. Do not allow others to make you feel like you can't succeed as a scientist.

Erica Holloman
Meet Erica Holloman

Erica Holloman is a student at the Virginia Institute for Marine Science. VIMS is part of the College of William and Mary. She's working on a doctoral degree in environmental sciences. Her area of research is "ecotoxicology." This is the science that studies how pollution affects animals, plants and water.

Image to right: Erica Holloman is studying the environment. Credit: Hampton University

How did she become interested in science?

She has always been curious about the "how" and "why" of the natural world. Her mother noticed this when she very young. At an early age, her mother began to draw out the scientist in her. She told her that the world of science was at her fingertips. And that her dream of becoming a scientist was possible. Her mother's confidence in her only added to her interest in the field.

What does she like best about her work?

She enjoys working with and learning from some of the leading scientists in the field of marine science.

What subjects in school have helped her the most?

She says that math, science and English were all very helpful. She describes math as the "language of science." Any person interested in science, she says, also has to be interested in math because they go together. She says that African American history was also important. It showed her that African Americans have been doing great things in the science world for a long time.

What are her career goals?

Her first goal is to earn a Ph.D. in environmental sciences. After that, she wants to keep looking at environmental changes. She wants to keep studying what impact humans and pollution have on the environment. Eventually she would like to be considered an expert in her field. Also, she feels that she should reach out to younger generations. She wants to do this by developing science education programs.

Who were her role models growing up?

Her role models were her grandmother, mother and father. They gave her confidence. This let her believe in herself. It also helped her know that it's OK to be in a field where most of the people don't look like her.

What advice does she have for minority women interested in science?

Don't doubt your place in the field of science. She says that even if you're the only woman or minority in a class, it doesn't mean you don't belong there. She also says that it's a good idea to learn about your history. For her, it was inspiring to learn about the great contributions African Americans have made to science. Knowing this has fueled her desire to add her name to the list.

See previous Earth Explorers articles:
+ View site

Related Resources

+ View site

Women of NASA
+ View site

Exploring the Environment: Coral Reefs
+ View site

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies