The Western Flyer Foundation is excited to welcome Dr. Rebecca S. Mostow as our new Education Program Manager. Rebecca, who started on December 1, will oversee our education programs designed to “stir curiosity” in students by merging art and science on the iconic Western Flyer. Among her responsibilities, Rebecca will develop and implement STEAM curriculum on land and at sea, grow a network of participating educational institutions and organizations, create professional development programs for educators, and establish a mentorship program with graduate students.
“Rebecca is a perfect addition to the Western Flyer Foundation, with her passion for education combined with her expertise in coastal ecology and enthusiasm for the teachings of Ricketts,” says Sherry Flumerfelt, Executive Director. “We are thrilled to welcome her to the team during this exciting time as we prepare for the Western Flyer’s return to Monterey.”
Dr. Mostow joins the Western Flyer Foundation with over a decade of experience designing, teaching, and running experiential science education programs, along with a strong background in coastal ecology research.
She received her B.A. in Biology (with minors in Chemistry and Hispanic Studies) from Oberlin College in 2013, where she explored many scientific curiosities, such as researching desert plant evolution, stigma associated with HIV, and peccary population dynamics. At this time, she nurtured a passion for teaching and began to sow the seeds of a career in education that integrated the arts and science.
After graduating from Oberlin, she spent three years working in research and outdoor education before starting graduate school at Oregon State University. Rebecca lived all over the West, including on a tiny island in Alaska studying seabirds, in Nevada collecting native plant seeds, and in Port Townsend, Washington, teaching from and running a small aquarium.
In 2016, Rebecca moved to Corvallis, Oregon, to begin graduate school at Oregon State University. Her Ph.D. research focused on the discovery, description, and implications of a novel hybrid beachgrass in the Pacific Northwest. She used methods from ecology, population genetics, and community science to show that this hybrid is widespread, relatively abundant, and aggressively competes with its parent species. She also designed and ran a participatory science project, hosted on iNaturalist, that trained people to search for and identify the hybrid beachgrass.
While working at Oregon State, Rebecca continued to grow as an educator by leading her department’s outreach programs, including designing scalable science curricula and building outreach kits that other graduate students could check out. She also taught undergraduates marine biology and general biology labs and created a mentoring program that paired graduate and undergraduate students. In all these avenues, she worked to build community, integrate art into science teaching, and explore the power of storytelling to connect people with ecology and ecosystems.
“Between Pacific Tides shaped my career both as an ecologist and an educator, so it’s a real honor to carry on the science education legacy of Ed Ricketts,” said Rebecca. “I’m looking forward to meeting all the wonderful people in the WFF community and hearing about your connections to Ricketts, Steinbeck, and the Western Flyer!”