For those of you who are friends with me on facebook or follow my twitter account, you know I have been aggressively promoting the National Geographic Expedition Granted competition, specifically one contestant, Dash Masland.
Granted, she is my sister in law, so of course I am going to support her. But there are other reasons why I want to see her win:
The first is her objective. She is competing to win the opportunity to travel to Hawaii to research the Monk Seal, a species that is tragically disappearing. The important thing about these seals is that they are living fossil, meaning that they have evolved so little from their ancestors that lived 15 million years ago they are considered to be the same species. So it is extra important to learn the best methods to protect them, because they still offer so many potential biologic and evolutionary lessons.
I'm also fascinated by the way Dash studies these animals, using non-invasive methods. She collects their scat and examines the DNA information the samples provide. Gross, but cool.
Finally, I think it is awesome that she is a woman in science. Our society has made a lot of strides closing the gender gap in the past few decades, but we still have further to go, especially in the STEM fields - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. I know that Dash, by participating in this competition, is already an excellent example to young students everywhere, showing them that you can accomplish great things by using your mind. I can only imagine how many more students she is going to reach when she wins.
So please help me help Dash help the monk seals by clicking this link and voting for her: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/expedition-week-granted
You can help her out even more by voting for her each day between now and the end of the competition on April 6th. By voting you are automatically entered to win a trip to the Galapagos Islands, but even more important is the fact that you are supporting an awesome young scientist contribute to the wider body of knowledge.