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Kara Headley starts as the communications manager for PRL and the MPS program

Kara Headley
Kara Headley
By Alexandra Hidalgo

My name is Kara Headley, and I am the new communications manager for the DOE-MSU Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) and the Molecular Plant Sciences program (MPS). I am very much looking forward to diving into this role and this community.

I graduated from Michigan State University in December 2020 with a B.A. in Professional Writing and minors in both environmental and sustainability studies and documentary production.

The environment and green initiatives have been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I was the kid who ran around picking up packing peanuts that blew out of my neighbor’s trash after a storm because I was afraid that birds would eat them, and who recently walked into the middle traffic to save a turtle.

When I began my undergrad in 2017, I joined the RISE community – the Residential Initiative to Study the Environment. If you can imagine a dorm hall full of people who will yell at you for not recycling, you’ve got my first two years of undergrad. I joined the blog team for this community, Sustainable Storieswhere I wrote some of my first articles on the science that drew me to this program.

I began my environmental and sustainability studies minor through RISE. I wanted to major in environmental science, until I took my first chemistry lab. It was one thing to read about scientific discoveries, it was another thing entirely to being the person doing said science.

Shortly after, I became one of the leaders for the RISE blog team. This sparked a love for science communication and research. I enjoyed looking at the research that scientists were conducting every day and figuring out a way to communicate these findings to a general audience.

One of my professors suggested I look into the professional writing program, which was flexible enough for me to continue my environmental science minor while diving into the different kinds of writing that would be essential as a science communicator.

Looking for ways outside of the classroom to explore science communication, I took an internship with the Great Lakes Echo, an online news publication that focuses on environmental news, and went on a study abroad to Peru to learn more on environmental journalism.

A woman stands on a bridge in a forest
Kara during her environmental journalism study abroad in Peru. 
Courtesy of Kara Headley

In June of 2019, I began my media communications internship at the MSU Innovation Center, where I later became the communications coordinator in January 2021. In this position, I learned more about the research initiatives within the university. My favorite part of that job was talking to professors about their work for articles and video projects. They would often show me and the other intern around their labs, which is where I became more and more comfortable in my role as a science communicator.

Before starting at the PRL, I had a variety of jobs, including as a media intern for the MSU Foundation and Conquer Accelerator, and the social media specialist and a staff writer for the feminist film journal agnès films. I recently finished a six-month editorial fellowship with the film publication Women and Hollywood.

I am an avid reader with a collection of books I love and a collection of strange and outdated books. I love to play Dungeons & Dragons and go camping with my friends. If you ask me about my cats, I will immediately whip out my phone to show you pictures.

I am so excited to learn about more and the PRL and the MPS program and to become involved in this community. To me, science communication is being a perpetual student, and I cannot wait to learn from and work with everyone in these programs.