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Megan Poffinbarger

Cal Poly Slo Chapter

By: Jessica Martin, SDSU Chapter Member

Meet Megan, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Chapter Member and Member Spotlight Nominee for the month of November! Megan is a fourth year at Cal Poly SLO majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Environmental Studies who wants to pursue a career in humanitarian work and wildlife conservation.
As a founding member of the Cal Poly chapter, Megan joined in Spring 2019. She loves the supportive network that the Cal Poly Chapter Executive team has created. WSS provides a network of other undergraduate women in STEM, but it also provides valuable networking opportunities within the community as community members have been eager to work with the Cal Poly chapter.
Outside of WSS, Megan is a member of Cru, an international Christian ministry and participates in research. She has been working with Dr. Nicki Adams to look at invertebrate settlement within the pelagic zone for a little over a year. Every other week, they go to the Cal Poly Pier in Avila, California at the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences. They bring up brushes from specific depths and filter the algae and seawater out then analyze and document what has settled on the brushes over the past week and a half. In free time outside of extracurricular activities, she enjoys reading, hiking to see the sunset and tidepooling.
Last summer, she had an internship at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. She grew up in San Diego and loved going to the park as a kid. She thought that it would be an amazing place to work, and with a little research she found that they had College Relations positions and interviewed to be an Animal Care Intern. She worked in the Wildlife Workshop, a segment of the park that focuses on “animal ambassadors”, or animals that are trained to interact well with humans. Megan’s primary tasks as an intern were to prepare for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums reaccreditation, create behavioral enrichment, learn animal husbandry practices, design and conduct observational studies for multiple animals, and build a platform for tracking and documenting animal use at the Workshop. Her favorite experience of working at the Safari Park was interacting with the animals. Her favorite animal was Fernando or “Fern”, a tamandua (aka an anteater). She lovingly described him as “spunky and energetic, with the cutest, curious personality and adorable face.”
Megan’s advice to other undergraduate women in science is to find the things that you are passionate about. Take classes with subjects that you find interesting, and never be afraid to reach out to others, whether it be a passionate and inspiring professor or a fellow WSS member. As Megan said, “life is better when you move through the tough stuff with people by your side”; I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Megan Poffinbarger
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