International Day of Women and Girls in Science

It’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science! We couldn’t let this day go by without giving our aquarists a huge shoutout for their incredible work day in and day out here at Birch Aquarium. While our team is an equal mix of women and men, we invite you to get to know the faces of the amazing women who care for our animals. 

Meet our Team


Title  Senior Director of Animal Care, Science and Conservation
University/Major  Saint Francis University, Marine Science concentration
Years at Birch Aquarium  7
Favorite Part of the job Working with a diverse group of animal-loving people who are in it to make a difference with our animals and community
Fun Fact About Jenn She plays multiple instruments including piano, trombone, cello, and clarinet, and, in college, was the lead actress in many musicals.
Advice “You will get the most satisfaction by putting the most of yourself into the care of the animals; the passion, the interest, the research, the love. Prepare for long days, hard work, and great people!”


Title   Associate Curator and “Mother of Dragons” 
University/Major University of Hawaii, Zoology with an emphasis in Marine Biology
Years at Birch Aquarium  29
Favorite Part of the job I love working with such a diverse group of aquatic animals. They are very interesting, and I learn new things all the time. I also like to share this cool information with other people.
Fun Fact About Leslee I like to be in the middle of nowhere. I paddle out to sea on my outrigger canoe on my days off, or drive way out to the desert to camp for a nice getaway.
Advice Keep learning and exploring whatever you are interested in.  The best job is one that you have a great passion for!!


Title  Senior Life Support Systems Aquarist
University/Major  Texas A&M University, Marine Biology
Years at Birch Aquarium  6
Favorite Part of the job Being in charge of all the mechanical equipment that keeps the animals alive!
Fun Fact About Jenni  She got her first fish from a game at the county fair!
Advice “Find internships at aquariums to get as much experience as possible by the time you graduate from college. The experience will give you an edge over other candidates.”



Title  Aquarium Assistant Dive Safety Officer and Aquarist
University/Major Humboldt State University and University of Queensland Australia, Marine Biology + Fish Biology  Minor: Scientific Scuba Diving
Years at Birch Aquarium  8
Favorite Part of the job Diving: to clean, collect, scout out, teach … all of it.
Fun Fact About Melissa  She is only 4 foot 11.5inches – No one will give her that 5 foot tall height measurement
Advice Stay flexible, animals don’t care what you have planned.


Title  Enrichment Coordinator and Aquarist
University/Major  Oregon State University, Zoology + Oregon Coast Community College, Aquarium Science Program
Years at Birch Aquarium  3.5
Favorite Part of the job  Enrichment! From octopuses to rockfish, I love incorporating enrichment into daily activities!
Fun Fact About Kaelie  She did ballet for 13 years before going to college!
Advice  “It’s allllllll in the networking. Make connections wherever you go and try to get your feet wet whenever you can (figuratively and literally!)”


Title  Aquarist
University/Major  The Ohio State University, Zoology
Years at Birch Aquarium  2.5
Favorite Part of her Job  Ocean Diving & Species Survival Plan (SSP) work
Fun Fact About Amy  Has a knack for naming the title and artist of songs within the first few seconds
Advice “Volunteer anywhere you can while you are in school — veterinary offices, wildlife rescues, zoos, aquariums, local nature preserves, etc.”


Title  Aquarist
University/Major UC Irvine, Biological Sciences
Years at Birch Aquarium  1
Favorite Part of her Job Watching someone’s jaw drop because you’ve told them something unbelievable about an animal that they will never forget.
Fun Fact About Kayla  I’m a painfully stereotypical native San Diegan that has brewed my own beer, loves running by the beach and is obsessed with my dogs.
Advice  “Don’t be afraid to involved and get your hands dirty! You are going to learn so much more from trying and failing and trying again than if you just stood by and watched.“