NotW: Rachel O'Leary - The Mohawk Aquarist
Sometimes you just know you've come to the right place.
That's how I felt when I met Rachel O'Leary.
We were both invited speakers and since I hardly see women at these events, I knew Rachel was going to make an impression. And boy, did she!
Rachel O'Leary - The Mohawk Aquarist & Naturalist
Rachel epitomizes a lot of qualities that I respect (and wish I had the balls enough to do). She travels the country doing fish club talks, she is her own scientist and natural historian, published author, and an aquarium-related icon. Maybe it's the mohawk? Nope, this woman knows her fish, loves her hobby, and one of the most down to Earth people I've ever met.
I remember sitting in her aquarium-club talk on dwarf shrimp and being impressed with the amount of information she knows and is completely up to date on. For example, the dwarf shrimp genera (Caridina, Neocaridina, etc.) are currently in flux taxonomically, and she has her finger right on the pulse. Frankly, the only thing that could hold her back from being more knowledgeable is the lack of Open-Source scientific publications (hint hint).
Not only is Rachel knowledgeable, she is willing to take a lot of time to educate others. She is also willing to stand up and tell people "No" when they want to buy organisms that are inappropriate for their aquarium set-up:
Aquarium keeping has gotten and will continue getting a lot of flack for irresponsible pet ownership issues, but people like Rachel are making a difference, once teeny tiny seemingly insignificant step at a time.