Profile: Lorin Neuman-Lee

Neuman-Lee finding a new field site in Utah, full of her study species (Thamnophis elegans) emerging from their hibernaculum!
    1. Name: Lorin Neuman-Lee (go by Lori)
    2. Age: 34
    3. Website / Twitter Handle / Instagram: @CheloniaGirl/ cheloniagirl
    4. Where do you work? Arkansas State University
    5. Position: Assistant Professor of Herpetology
    6. How did you get there? As a freshman, I nervously asked Dr. Fred Janzen at Iowa State University if I could “sweep the floors.” He gave me a job and I started research with turtles. I fell in love with research and reptiles in particular. I received my B.S. in Biology and then a B.S. in English from ISU and worked with Dr. Stephen Mullin and Dr. Karen Gaines at Eastern Illinois University for my M.S. I loved physiology and herps, so I began working with Dr. Susannah French at Utah State University and had the opportunity to be mentored by her as well as other eminent herpetologists (Drs. Brodie, Savitizky, and Crump). After receiving my PhD, I had a baby and decided to wait a year before going on the job market, so I was a temporary instructor at USU. It ended up being the best decision I could have made because it meant that I was available when the job opening for a herpetologist AND immunologist opened up at Arkansas State University, which was the perfect size school and position for me. I applied, got the job, and am here now!

7. Was there any particular hardship that you had to overcome to work in your position? Of course. I think everyone has their hardships that they must overcome. I personally struggled with mental health issues stemming from childhood trauma, especially in my undergraduate career. I was incredibly fortunate to have a strong support system and mentors that helped me succeed even when I was struggling. I have also had to navigate through many instances of individuals doubting my ability (including myself)! Again, I have amazing family, friends, and mentors that have helped me believe in myself.

8.  What advice do you give to someone interested in your profession? What advice might you have for someone from an underrepresented group who is interested in entering your field? Make sure that you find your “people.” It can be family, friends, colleagues. Always surround yourself with people that truly want the best for you and are going to support you. Pick mentors (no matter what stage of your career!) that will care about your goals and are dedicated to making sure you reach them. Remember that everyone else feels insecure sometimes and that you are not alone. And finally, believe in yourself. It may sound cliché, but it is true. I have a board by my desk with thank you notes, cards, drawings, acceptance letters and other things to remind me of my successes when I am focusing on my failures.

9. What’s your favorite herp? That’s the hardest question! I guess I have to say rough green snakes. They are so beautiful and cryptic.

10. Why are you an HL member? I joined HL because I felt that I could make a difference working in the society. I joined when I was a student and was the inaugural co-chair of the Student Committee. We started the E.E. Williams Grants and the student calendar.

11. Is there anything else you would like to add? I’ve been appointed the chair of the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee of HL and I’ve been so excited about ensuring that we improve the field for every individual. There has been overwhelming support for this committee and I’m really excited to be a part of HL’s next chapter!

12. Is there a good caption for your attached photograph? Neuman-Lee finding a new field site in Utah, full of her study species (Thamnophis elegans) emerging from their hibernaculum!

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