Riley Michelle Egger


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    The University of Texas at Austin

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I have a degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior from the University of Texas at Austin. I have a love of being in the field – having participated in research on primates in the Peruvian Amazon, sharks and rays off the Florida coast, and coastal systems in Texas. I have a particular career interest in the ocean and its vital role as the heart of the earth. I hope to pursue a career in marine conservation in whatever form I can, whether it be politically to ensure sound policy and protection, scientifically contributing to the research that is always needing to be updated and explored, or communicating and inspiring children and the public alike to take individual steps and having us work together to conserve, preserve, and restore the ocean and earth alike.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    My favorite plant is the black mangrove! I think our aquatic friends can be easily overlooked when talking about botany. The black mangrove is a vital part of the estuarine ecosystem that provides many ecosystem services for people and wildlife. They are an amazing example of the adaptable capabilities of plants. They are one of the few that can live along the coastline where water is salty, but they don’t shrivel from all the salt. They have ways of blocking out the salt to get the freshwater they need to grow and thrive. If you look on their leaves, you can sometime see salt crystals as they get rid of the salt they’ve collected. My favorite part of them is how they breathe, they have “snorkels”, structures called pneumatophores, which literally means air breathing roots! They come up above the water’s surface that they live in and allow them to get the oxygen that every plant needs. This past summer I saw a pup (juvenile shark!) while I was swimming in the mangroves, because they provide an excellent habitat for smaller aquatic animals to eat and grow, by providing shelter from larger predators that would want to eat them.

  • Profile Question 2
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My advice is something that I wish I would have learned long before I was an undergraduate – there are so many ways to contribute to science, and you should explore them all. A lot of people have a very one dimensional view of science. They believe that if you get an undergraduate degree in biology that you have to apply to medical, nursing, or dental school. That a scientist is someone who is anti-social and sits in a laboratory by themselves all day. But the science community is very interdisciplinary and has many opportunities. You can work in a laboratory, you can do hands on work outside, you can be a science journalist, you can politically advocate and defend science, you can teach it. There are many opportunities for whatever you are interested in! Up until even my junior year of undergrad I was convinced that I was going to be a typical “scientist”. I was going to do research, publish papers, and that was the only way I could make a career out of science. It wasn’t until I got an internship at The National Wildlife Federation that I realized the immense opportunities out there. I was working in an office, not a lab, but I was using my scientific background and putting those values forward in a different way. I say explore every opportunity, try things out of your comfort zone, and never stop learning.

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you share a funny/interesting lab or field story?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    Oh, I have quite a few! In science you are always kept on your toes. One time I was in New Orleans, Louisiana as part of my internship and we were planting tree saplings to restore the marsh. I was nervous, I was with people who were senior to me, and I wanted to make a good impression. I was knee deep in mud trying to plant trees with my team, and it was hard! We were towards the end of the day and in an area where it was clear, so we knew trees were needed. I’m wading through the mud and water in my knee high boots and all of a sudden – splat. It was like a sinking ship and my boots filled with water and sunk deep into the mud and I was more than stuck. I tried to pull my feet out but the more I struggled the more I sank into the mud. Eventually, I had to raise the white flag and call for help. My boss had to come to my rescue. He tried his hardest to help me pull my boots from the mud but to no avail. I had to abandon the boots and walk in my now drenched socks to land that I knew was solid. We eventually got the boots, and finished that day planting over 500 trees. But it was a wet, cold, and embarrassing ride back home!

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

Recent Posts

sdhsnixonspring2018 project 2 Riley Michelle Egger

Hey ladies,


My name is Riley, I'm excited to help y'all with this project. A little about me - I went to The University of Texas at Austin where I studied Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior. My current work is at the…

dmtcikimfall2017 project 5 (Solar Squad) Riley Michelle Egger

Hey Solar Squad!


How is everything going? Do you need any clarification about my suggestions? Excited to see how your project turns out! Keep me updated when you begin.



dmtcikimfall2017 project 5 (Solar Squad) Riley Michelle Egger

What’s up solar squad!


First of all, I’m impressed with your project choice! It combines a known botany assay of the disk floating technique with an innovative question on the effects of different colored light on…


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