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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Alumni Career Spotlight: Krystal Pocock

Krystal Pocock
Environmental Science '18
Research and Outreach Coordinator, The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP)

Krystal Pocock with Hogsucker Fish

As an undergraduate student, Krystal studied Environmental Science with a specialization in Water Science and completed her degree in SENR in 2018. She also earned her Master’s of Science in Environment and Natural Resources with a specialization in Fisheries and Wildlife science in 2021. Currently, she serves as the Research and Outreach Coordinator for The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP).




A Glance at Krystal’s Current Work

Currently, I am the Research and Outreach Coordinator for The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP) maintained by the School of Environment and Natural Resources within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

A typical day in my job consists of fielding emails, coordinating the research that is conducted at the ORWRP, receiving and approving field trip and research requests, planning and delivering outreach programming, giving tours of the grounds/park, and maintaining daily operations. I also help coordinate the SENR courses that happen at the Heffner Wetland Research and Education building, and maintain all of our teaching and field equipment. Additionally, I manage 3-5 student interns, maintain research monitoring equipment on site, and conduct field sampling for research monitoring purposes.

The most rewarding part of my job is delivering environmental education programming to K-12 students and providing tours to OSU classes, groups, and the general public. I love showing others what a unique place the ORWRP is and sharing my favorite parts of the park with them. It’s so fun when we run into a family of deer or see wildlife we weren’t expecting to catch a glimpse of. Everyone is excited and has stories to take home with them! Furthermore, for some students, this is their first experience with wetland ecosystems. There’s nothing like seeing a student’s face light up after holding a fish for the first time, or seeing a unique macroinvertebrate in a sample they just took from the wetland boardwalk.

Krystal with Grand Canyon Background


Professional Development

What were you involved in during college?

As an undergraduate, I was heavily involved in research. I was in the Honor’s Program and completed a thesis where I explored taxonomic and functional macroinvertebrate diversity indices as indicators of nutrient pollution in Ohio streams. This involved extensive field work on a project aimed at understanding nutrient dynamics in the Ohio River basin. As a graduate student, I worked as a teaching assistant for Methods in Aquatic Ecology and Introduction to Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife, two courses that I would go on to co-instruct as an Aquatics Instructional Associate for SENR after finishing my Master’s degree. My Master’s research focused on quantifying traits in native and non-native Ohio crayfishes and exploring whether differences in those traits influenced particular ecosystem functions. I also regularly served as an undergraduate mentor and on an SENR mini-grants committee for a semester as a graduate student.

I spent most of my summers conducting field research for a project aimed at understanding nutrient dynamics in the Ohio River basin, however, I also worked part-time at a private environmental chemistry laboratory. At the laboratory, I would analyze water samples using EPA-approved methods, clean glassware, maintain the lab, report results to clients, accept samples, and field client questions over the phone and in-person. This experience was critical in helping me determine what I wanted out of a future career. The time spent in the laboratory helped me realize that I would prefer a career that had a balance of time spent outdoors collecting samples as well as time spent indoors analyzing them, as opposed to working full-time in a laboratory setting. I worked at this laboratory for 4 years and enjoyed it very much despite ultimately deciding that I would choose another path.


What advice would you give to someone who is still in college and hoping to do what you do?

Take advantage of any and every experience that you have space for in your life. Travel as you are able, network as much as possible, develop and maintain meaningful connections with potential employers, friends, and colleagues, and give back to your community as much as you can. I learned that there is value in all experiences that I had as an undergraduate and graduate student, whether they ultimately helped me decide that I wanted to take a certain path or not.


What experience do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?

The most valuable experience in my professional development was conducting extensive fieldwork during undergrad and graduate studies. The long days (or weeks) spent in the field in inclement weather in remote conditions taught me resiliency, flexibility, and patience that I’ve carried with me through my teaching and mentoring of students and employees. These experiences have taught me to be ready for anything, to think quickly and critically to solve problems, and to meet folks where they are and to adapt my teaching and mentoring style to fit the needs of my mentee or the student. I will forever be thankful for the long days and challenges of field work.


What was a challenge you faced in your professional development and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge that I’ve faced is that I’ve learned that I’m someone who constantly craves development. While I do receive development from my supervisor(s) and peers, I learned from trial and error that I also need to actively seek development on my own to remain engaged and excited about my work. This translates to participation in conferences, organization of events/outreach, and membership in relevant organizations and societies. I also attend diversity training regularly to learn how I can continue to be an ally and advocate for others. This has been extremely rewarding.



What did you immediately do post-graduation?

I went straight to grad school after undergraduate. I weighed the decision heavily and ultimately decided that this was what was best for me at the time. I spoke to several different people (e.g., faculty, grad students, other undergraduate students, agency professionals, etc.) to gain their perspectives. I would often ask them if they were comfortable sharing how they got to be where they are now. Most of the folks in positions that I could see myself in had obtained at least a Master’s degree, so I decided that a Master’s was right for me at that time in my life. Their perspectives helped, but I did a lot of self-reflection that guided me to this decision.


What was most important to you in your job search?

The most important thing to me is the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Our mental and physical well being is the most important thing, and I needed to find a position that could help me maintain a healthy level of that. I was also searching for a position where I could make a real difference in other’s lives, whether through education or mentorship. I am very lucky to be in the position I am today, and extremely thankful for the opportunities that have led me here.

Krystal with Cactus

How to connect with Krystal: