Biologist Works for a Brighter Future

Biologist Works for a Brighter Future

Laboratory

How fascinating is Dr. Anne Estes’s research on insects?

“I’m in a coloring book called Super Cool Scientists,” she admits sheepishly.

Anne studies dung beetles’ diet—they eat poop—and their digestive microbes, because she believes that we can use their gut bacteria as an energy source in the future.

Anne was a Girl Scout from Brownies through high school and earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. Her troop traveled a lot, like to the World’s Fair in Knoxville and to a music studio in Nashville. She’s currently the troop leader of her daughters’ mixed-level troop, and even though her research keeps her busy, her commitment to the troop is important to her because her experiences in Girl Scouts inspired her career in science.

Growing up in North Alabama, Anne first saw the ocean during a Girl Scout whale-watching trip to Massachusetts, which inspired her to later major in marine biology as an undergraduate. 

Through Girl Scouts, she also found herself exposed to new skills and hobbies by earning badges that let her try something new by going outside her comfort zone just a little bit each time she started a new badge.

“It’s something I have to do as a scientist all the time,” she explains. “People think scientists are these amazing people who just know everything about a subject, but it’s so not true. We’re constantly learning new technology and pushing into the unknown.”

 “As a shy, nervous girl, I was scared of new situations,” she continues, “and Girl Scouts taught me there are neat things out there and you should just go out and do them.”