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Antonia Florio, Ph.D.

Manager, Research

Antonia Florio

Growing up, there were two ideas I accepted as absolute truths: (1) animals were cool and (2) being outside was fun. I also questioned everything, driving my parents nuts by asking “Why?” to whatever they told me. It was later, in high school, that I realized if my adult life somehow involved learning, animals, and traveling, that I would probably be happy. My parents agreed with my life plan, but then instilled in me an important reality check -- if I wanted to spend all my time traveling and learning about animals, I would need money so accruing debt in college was a bad idea.

So, I enrolled at the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY City College where I obtained an awesome undergraduate education for free, and got money to travel abroad and study animals in the Galapagos Islands, French Guiana, and South Africa. After these experiences, it became apparent that I would be best able to study animals and travel as a scientist, which was a career option I had never before imaged. I applied to and was luckily accepted into the Ph.D. program at the American Museum of Natural History where I studied several chameleon species in Madagascar. For my dissertation, I used genetic, morphological, and environmental data in order to better understand how new species are formed.

It was during graduate school that I began to appreciate science as a tool for answering questions in a logical and practical manner. I became interested in the positive way science education could influence how a person interprets information, not only for research purposes, but also for everyday life. I am looking forward to working at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory DNA Learning Center as a way of expanding both my interests in science research and science education. As a native New Yorker, I am especially excited about taking NYC students out of the classroom and outside to study animals, as I myself remember these instances being my favorite learning experiences.

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