Name: Tracy Langkilde
Website / Twitter Handle / Instagram: LangkildeLab.com / @TracyLangkilde
Where do you work? Pennsylvania State University
Position: Professor and Department Head
How did you get there? I took exciting opportunities as they presented themselves. BSc (with honours degree) at James Cook University in Australia, 3 years working as a research tech, PhD at Sydney Uni, Australia. I got a Postdoc Fellowship through Yale and moved across the world to start a new study system, started applying for faculty positions and got a job at Penn State in 2007. Been here ever since.
Was there any particular hardship that you had to overcome to work in your position? I was told that I should not go on to grad school (honours degree). I had a tough time in undergrad and my grades weren’t the best. I found someone to take me on for honours (a pre-req for doing a PhD), but the Director of the program said I would never make it. It was crushing but I was determined and had advisors that fought for me.
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? 1) Follow your interests. Don’t have your career too carefully mapped out as this might mean you’re less open to opportunities that may present themselves. Even if you don’t really know where you want to end up, if you do something you’re interested in at each step of the way, you’ll end up somewhere that works for you. 2) Find advocates, a support network, people to fight for you and hold you strong. You can do it, but it may be harder so get people on your side that believe in you and help you continue to believe in yourself.
What’s your favorite herp? Knob-tailed Gecko (Nephrurus levis). Those eyes…! And the attitude.
Why are you an HL member? I joined initially because it makes it cheaper to attend the annual meetings. But it’s a great way to connect with other people that geek out about herps!
Is there anything else you would like to add? The field of herpetology is stronger for the diversity of its participants. We all need to work harder to be more inclusive, make everyone feel supported, and empower ALL of our members to succeed. We will all be better for it.
Is there a good caption for your attached photograph? Sometimes it takes a village to get fieldwork done. My mom will often come with me into the field to help look after my son. We always get to know the local herpetofauna.