An interview with Kara Tudor

Name: Kara TudorKaraTudor

Current Job: Associate Research Specialist / Microbiologist

Scientific Discipline/Field: Microbiology / Water Quality

Country: USA

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q etc.): B, Q, A

Twitter or other social media handle? Twitter: @re_kara, Facebook: tudorkar

What does your job involve?

  • Assessing microbial activity using time-kill method at a bench scale level
  • Collecting and analyzing ballast water samples for microbial analysis during ballast intake and/or discharge operations onboard commercial vessels in the Great Lakes and worldwide
  • Assessing the biological performance status testing of ballast water management systems over a range of challenge conditions through land-based testing
  • Exploring active substance degradation, dose effectiveness, and chronic residual toxicity of a proposed ballast water management systems
  • Assisting with the microbial analysis from ballast water treatment systems for quality control on freshwater aquatic invasive species transfer with the Great Waters Research Collaborative
  • Helping to determine the success of water quality commercial products for ballast water treatments
  • Preparing samples for qPCR analysis to measure and determine E. coli source tracking

How did you get to this job (education etc.)?

I got a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies, Biology, and Geographic Information Systems. I started my undergraduate research at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (LSNERR), one of 28 systems across the country designated for continuing and extensive research on coastal resources and the human populations those resources support through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I collected and analyzed data of invasive rusty crayfish within the St. Louis River freshwater estuary. My research pertained to invasive rusty crayfish and their presence, and the ecological and environmental effects their populations have on the Lake Superior Basin. My undergraduate research looked at how invasive species impact the local wetlands they invade, and how we can biologically and sustainably detect, control, and moderate this effect. After that I interned, got a Limited Term Employment contract, and when that was up I was hired as full-time staff at the Institute I currently work at, going on my second year.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

Not really. I believe that being a woman and a minority (Native American) has played a role in my career decisions, and especially my education to get here. I gained a lot of scholarship and grant opportunities through those identities. Though I am out at work, and in public, and am married to a non-binary Trans person, I do not believe that this has at all affected by job or goals. I even work on the Diversity and Inclusion committee!

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

The B is so highly ignored or thought of as a phase that I’ve been boxed into the L category ever since I came out. My bisexuality feels more like pansexuality, but it’s so misunderstood that I don’t talk about that identity unless asked about it. Also, having a non-binary partner who goes by they/them/theirs pronouns has been a slight issue. Every single day, in every instance, they are misgendered to me, even if I correct my peers and colleagues.

Did you have any role models growing up (LGBT, STEM, totally unrelated…)?

  • SO many women in science! I can’t choose.
  • The librarians of the world.
  • My mom who knows anything about every little thing.

What are your plans for the future?

I would love to expand my research experience and job experience into watershed and water quality management, into environmental sustainability and restoration, and learn about ecosystem structure and function in wetlands. Graduate school could be a possibility in my future to do so. It would provide me with a better understanding of complex issues in natural resource governance and policy of the human influences on Great Lakes coastal wetlands, and towards learning more about ecosystem restoration and aquatic ecosystem development. This would help me attain more knowledge on ways to further research and implement mitigation and conservation practices in coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Simply put my goals lie in researching how invasive species impact the local communities and ecosystems they invade, and how we can biologically and sustainably detect, control, and moderate this effect. There are so many ways that humans and social forces interact with the natural world and influence ecosystem processes, and I hope to one day be a more influential, educated, and effective leader in that part of the scientific community.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for existing!

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