Personal website for Kiersten Formoso, Vertebrate Paleobiology & Functional Morphology PhD candidate,
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California.
I am very passionate about teaching and scientific outreach. I am often at my happiest when I am discussing my research and academic interests with people who are new to or unfamiliar with the topics. I see every conversation, even the most passive, as an opportunity to educate and bring science to the forefront of more people's minds.
Outreach and Science Communication
Dino Fest | NHMLA
July 26, 2019
As one of Project Scientist's "Superstars" for the week, I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to a diverse group of girls, aged 4-12, about marine tetrapods, paleontology, science, and my life journey. Project Scientist is a wonderful program that aims to get young girls interested in STEM fields.
Virginia Tech Museum of Geosciences Outreach
Two visiting classes of JROTC students from the Franklin Military Academy of Richmond, VA, were given grad student taught lessons on varied topics in earth sciences and paleontology utilizing the museum resources as part of an outreach relationship between the museum and school. My lessons were on geologic time and evolution and were a big hit!
January 11, 2020
Long Beach Comic Expo
I had the opportunity to be a featured panelist on on all women paleontologist team at Long Beach Comic Expo for a session titled "Pop Paleo" which discussed with and answered questions from audience members on how paleontology influences popular culture (fantasy, sci-fi, movies, video games, etc). This panel was hosted by Space Expo and Cosplay for Science.
NHMLA's Dino Fest
Volunteered to help represent USC Paleosciences at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles for their 2018 Dino Fest, a two-day festival that is all things dinosaurs and paleontology. I talked with table visitors about titanosaurs, tyrannosaurs, vertebrae, and deep time.
Virginia Tech Center for Communicating Science Opening Ceremony
To celebrate the opening of Virginia Tech's brand new Center for Communicating Science, which I was on the Advisory Board for, a friendly competition called the "Nutshell Games" was held where your graduate research is described in 90 seconds, or in a nutshell. I explained my broader interest and research on the themes of convergent evolution in vertebrates.
November 14, 2019
Nerd Nite LA
I was a presenter for "Nerd Nite," an event featured in cities across the world where "nerds" have the opportunity to share their nerdy knowledge topics in a laid back, mature, middle-brow setting. I gave a talk on my PhD research, and it was titled "Land was just a phase! I'm not that tetrapod anymore.” It was a hit, both in educational delivery and audience laughs.
"Up-Goer 5" Challenge
This fun challenge tasks you with you explaining a difficult topic using only the "ten hundred" or 1000 most common English words. Meant to be humorous and absurd in tone, my presentation was called "How Cold-blooded, Dry-skinned, Four-legged Animals with Long Necks Can Tell Us How Animals Change Through Time."
Rutgers Geology Museum
As part of an internship, I independently designed a tour for the Rutgers Geology Museum, one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the country, called "A Journey Through Deep Time and Evolution." This tour took a look at the paleontological museum exhibits starting with Ice Age mammals and moving backwards through geologic time all the way to the Permian Seymouria exhibit. Topics were accessible for ages 9 and up.
Courses officially taught and assisted with.
History of Life: A View from the Museum, LAB (GEOL 126)
Teaching Assistant, Spring 2019, Univeristy of Southern California
Lab delves into hands on applications of material covered in the lecture course described as "topically-driven exploration of evolution, environmental change, and the history of life on Earth via the fossil record with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles as a laboratory. How the changing Earth and life co-evolved through time."
Planet Earth (GEOL 105)
Teaching Assistant, Fall 2018, University of Southern California
Broad lab topics covered which served as an extension to topics covered in lecture which on the geologic structure and evolution of planet earth including principles of plate tectonics, rocks and minerals, processes of mountain building, continent and ocean formation, earthquakes, volcanism, fossils and geologic time, and development of landforms by running water and glaciers.
Conservation Ecology (11:216:317)
Grading Assistant, Spring 2018, Rutgers University
Graded weekly written assignments and research papers, with effective feedback to facilitate writing improvement. Assignments pertained to various topics on the effects of technology and population growth on species, ecosystems, and human communities, environmental impact of agricultural and industrial systems, global environmental change, and biological and social underpinnings of conservation.
Physical Geology, LAB (GEOS 1104)
Teaching Assistant, Spring 2017, Fall 2016, Virginia Tech
First half of this lab course focused on identification of minerals and rocks; with the second half delving into broader physical geologic themes including interpreting and building geologic maps, topographic maps and air photographs and their use in understanding landscape and geologic influences on human activities.