Meet Rachel Diamond, the new CAISE project manager

October 30, 2018

Hi everyone! My name is Rachel Diamond. I just moved to Washington, DC from Atlanta, GA, after living there for six years. The first five of those years were spent working on my Ph.D. in neuroscience and animal behavior at Emory University. I’m thrilled to be working at the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education as the new Project Manager (as of mid-September).

My research involved giving memory tests to nonhuman primates using touchscreen computer systems. My primary (and favorite) research subjects were the orangutans at Zoo Atlanta. Every morning I would bring the touchscreen computer systems to the orangutans before they went outside for the day. Participation was totally voluntary, and the orangutans loved doing the tests on the computers.

Because my research was based at Zoo Atlanta, I had the opportunity to communicate with the public about the research itself and the importance of research generally. We (the research team) worked with Zoo Atlanta’s outreach and education programs to clearly talk about research in zoos and encourage visitors to think about science and conservation.

As a graduate student I led Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program at Emory. With a group of 15 volunteers each year, we brought lessons about sustainability and science to third graders at a local elementary school. We also participated in the Atlanta Science Festival Exploration Expo, where we brought interactive activities designed to spark conversations about sustainability to hundreds of Atlantans of all ages. Dissecting owl pellets was a real crowd pleaser, and it prompted dialog about predator-prey relationships and local wildlife.

I’m deeply committed to making science fun and approachable, and I’m delighted to be working at an organization dedicated to supporting the field of informal STEM education. My first main project is organizing the 2019 NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Principal Investigator meeting. After that, I look forward to making connections with the people and projects that are a part of the community. I’m excited to learn about more areas of informal STEM education, and I hope to connect with those of you interested in zoos, sustainability, and conservation.