Gabby Salazar is a social scientist, photographer and fourth-year doctoral student in the School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatics Sciences. Her new book published by National Geographic is titled “No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice” and is available for purchase on February 1, 2022.
The following is a question-and-answer session with Gabby regarding her work on the book and her career:
Q: Who is Gabby Salazar and what does she do?
A: I’m a social scientist and a photographer. I’m also a fourth-year doctoral student in the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences with Dr. Martha Monroe. For my dissertation, I’m studying how environmental images influence pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. Before starting my degree at the University of Florida, I worked as a conservation photographer and helped design and distribute environmental education programs.
Q: What is your new book about?
A: The book is called “No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice” and it profiles 25 incredible women from around the world who are pursuing careers in science and adventure today. The book talks about what it is like to be a woman in STEM and outdoor exploration, including the struggles, successes, hopes, and dreams of women in these fields.
Q: What inspired you to create this book?
A: My co-author, Clare Fieseler, and I started working on this book almost four years ago. We both recognized that women scientists and explorers were underrepresented in the media, and we wanted to highlight incredible women who are contributing to science and exploration today. We also wanted to expose young people to the many ways that they could get involved in science and exploration and introduce them to the many different fields they could pursue. Research has shown that girls may have a limited perception of what “counts” as science, which may discourage them from pursuing STEM careers. To make this point, the book illustrates a variety of ways that women can be involved in science, including citizen science, science communication, and community-based conservation. It also includes women from many different scientific disciplines, such as ecology, planetary science, bioengineering, wildlife biology, and paleoanthropology.
Q: What are some of your favorite experiences in science and exploration?
A: As a photographer, I collaborated with a lot of amazing scientists to tell stories about their research. One of my favorite projects was in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Grocke, a volcanologist. I went with her on an expedition to Guatemala to use photogrammetry to study active lava domes. We hiked up and camped on Santa María volcano so that we could get a clear view of the Santiaguito lava dome complex below. Watching eruptions from the top of Santa María was extraordinary. The story of the expedition is featured in Dr. Grocke’s profile in the book.
Q: How did you get involved with the National Geographic Society? Any advice for other students who want to get involved?
A: I got involved with the National Geographic Society after receiving a grant to pursue a conservation photography project. Their grants support scientists and explorers at all career levels. You can learn more about their grants program here: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/society/grants-and-investments/. We also have an Explorer Hub in Florida that connects grantees in Florida to encourage collaboration and friendship!
Q: Are there any groups or organizations that you recommend to women who are interested in science and exploration?
Copies of “No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice” are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Salazar’s website is gabbysalazar.com, and she can be followed on Instagram and Twitter at @gabbyrsalazar.