Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.


Mentorships available for female first generation and or diverse students wanting to get into college or graduate school in the sciences

If you are a female high school student, college undergraduate, or just a "regular person" trying to get back to college/grad school, I want to help you! As a first generation college student I found the whole process rather confusing, so I'd like to pay it forward and help you.

Also, the fields within science need more women and I'd like to see YOU apply! If you are a woman, especially from a non-Caucasian heritage, let me help you get your college life going! E-mail me below and we can chat! 

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Why Mentor? 

As a first generation college student I had no idea how the college-thing worked. I tried, I failed, and finally figured out I needed a mentor to help me along the way. I relied on two great mentors at Ohio State that helped me figure things out and get to where I am today. I want to return the favor to the next generation of students. 

Looking for new mentoring opportunities!

If you're a high school or college undergraduate and would like to be mentored for a senior thesis or a project, please feel free to contact me. I am also happy to help you line up those never-ending hoops for you to jump through easily. Just contact me to start a discussion!

I am also interested in mentoring younger (groups) of students, especially girls, who may need a STEM role-model. Please contact me if you would like to talk more about it! 

Mentoring Experience:

2016-2017 Aquarium Research Team (AqRT): I needed help collecting data on aquarium literature and other pieces of aquarium content so in fall of 2016, I joined the Aggie Research Leadership Program for post-docs and graduate students at Texas A&M. Outlined on their website, here, they offer post-graduates the opportunity to mentor and lead undergraduates in a research capacity. Through the program I recruited and maintained 7 students, each from various backgrounds. These students include Minna Wong, Samantha Huntley, Emily How, Stephen Blair, Eli Kain, Madison McClintock, and Aaron Drotts. thanks to their hard work and dedication, I was able to pull together a more supported project, complete with data from their collection efforts. 

2015-2016 Ex situ and In situ Mentoring: During the 2015-2016 school year I am funded through the Applied Biodiversity Sciences' Conservation Scholars Program at Texas A&M. This program provides research and internship opportunities for qualified undergraduates in the field of conservation biology. Specifically, the focus of their research and internship is the intersection of energy development and biodiversity conservation in the Gulf of Mexico. 

I am mentoring 2 undergraduate students from Texas A&M Galveston: Victoria Bartlett and Mae Hinson, as well as 3 students from Texas A&M in College Station: Anna Cole, Thanchira "MJ" Surimiyamongkol, and Hannah Gerke. Their research projects and internship information is available on the program website here:

2014-2015 Online Mentoring: During this school year I mentored a Texas high school senior, Stephen Blair, who was completing his senior thesis. Stephen contacted me via e-mail and we immediately had a lot in common. As an aquarium hobbyist he was interested in aquarium fish species and the interactions people have with them. Sounds just like my research, right? Stephen did a great job of identifying a problem (e.g. lack of interest and respect for freshwater fish), proposing a research method (e.g. participant observation, surveys, interviews), analyzing his results, and not only proposing but actually implementing a fix. 

Stephen kept a blog of his progress here: This was a very helpful way to organize his thoughts and communicate with me. He also got writing experience, some online visibility, and kept a "lab notebook" of what he did and what he wanted to do next.  

In his research for his senior thesis, Stephen talked to people about freshwater fish and solicited their responses about them. He found that non-fish people thought of freshwater fish as boring, unthinking, animals who were more like "swimming drones". Stephen took that to heart and started his advocacy Instagram account, @interestingfwfish to help combat those inaccuracies. He did a great job researching a problem and implementing an albeit small, but productive fix. Stephen is also actively trying to breed  a hard-to-breed species of fish, the Kuhli loach (Pangio kuhlii),  in order to advance his understanding of the species, but also to show his progress and interesting aspects about the species to those outside of the fish-keeping hobby.

These are the kinds of students I want to "create" with mentoring- those that can work on their own for a portion of the time, those that use their own introspection and realize their biases to both inform and focus their work, and those that can propose and implement change. I'm very proud of you, Stephen! Congrats on finishing and please continue all your hard work. 

The Kuhli loach ( Pangio kuhlii). Photo by the famous Gary Lange.

The Kuhli loach (Pangio kuhlii). Photo by the famous Gary Lange.


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