Jasmine Nelson

Houston, TX

"As a kid, I was often told I asked too many questions. Now I'm making a career out answering the cool ones!"

I graduated from DeBakey High School for Health Professions in 2015 where I was interested in both veterinary medicine and orthopedics. I went to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, TX - oil capital of Texas - to pursue a BS degree in Geology. Though it was an eight hour drive from homes, it was within 3 hours of almost all geologically interesting sites in Texas! There, my project was on the Wink County sinkholes in Wink, Texas and their further development. After getting my BS in Geology in 2019, I moved to Austin, Texas where I am pursuing my Master's degree. I am developing proxies to predict the hearing capabilities of extinct reptiles at UT Austin. I plan to pursue my PhD and go on to become a professor at a predominantly undergraduate university.

My Pathway

From a young age, I was convinced that I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon: a pretty specific career choice for a first grader. I was absolutely mesmerized by documentaries of both medicine and wildlife on TV. Despite this, I only ever saw the health professions as a career choice; that is, until I got just bored enough one summer.

With nothing to do, I sought out fun volunteer opportunities in the Houston area. My aunt, who was a docent at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, recommended the museum's teen volunteer program, the Ecoteens. In this program, you gave presentations, tours, and partnered with summer camp classrooms to engage young students in science! I signed up to volunteer for the required 2 weeks and ended up working over 400 hours! It was there that I worked with Dr. Robert Bakker and David Temple learning about Texas Paleontology, specifically the West Texas Permian Red Beds.

The surprising thing is...

I found all of passions at the museum completely on accident! I didn't feel lost about what I wanted to pursue in college and I was convinced I knew what I liked until I dived head first into my volunteer work. I discovered passions in both teach and mentorship, as well as my future career path with Geology and Paleontology. Had I not branched out and tried something new, I could have led an entirely different life!


Even if you think you have your whole life planned out, explore, explore, explore! When you are young you have the freedom to go out on a limb, try new things, and get out of your comfort zone! When you do this, you learn so much about yourself and the world. Where you end up through your exploration may really surprise you!

Contact Me!

Reach out to learn more about the geosciences, about how to become a geoscientist, or to talk about your own story.