Meet our August cover model Nicole Mendell
Occupation: Researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch
Where are you from?
I grew up in the sticks in the Texas Hill Country in the coolest little house my dad was perpetually building. Its unfinished state meant we spent a lot of time outside and nature spent a lot of time inside with us.
What do you do at the University of Texas Medical Branch?
I research bacteria that are transmitted by ticks and other parasites. This entails everything from going out and collecting ticks for surveillance, to trying to figure out how these pathogens make people sick and how we can use this information to make a vaccine.
What led you to that field of study?
Growing up in the middle of nowhere, I got to slink around peering into the fascinating life cycles of the plants and creatures around me. From collecting dragonfly larvae in jars, to watching them go from swimmers to fliers, or watching the metamorphosis of tadpoles to frogs, I became an observer at a young age. As a scheme to get more pets when I was 5, I convinced my parents my science fair project had to be comparing the eating habits of mice and gerbils. It worked, and my first scientific experiment was born.
What do you love most about Galveston?
The people are lovely. It is a small community comprised of different people with a wide range of interests, which allows you to interact with and learn from them. All kinds of artists, history lovers, junk collectors, shrimpers, writers, small-business owners, farmers and chefs, who in bigger cities would be isolated to their niche, all come together.
This is “The Good Life” issue. What is your definition of the good life on the Texas Coast?
Being able to walk down to the beach with my dog, catch a beautiful sunrise, eat some fresh Gulf oysters and see some local live music.
Tell us about your volunteer work on the 1877 tall ship Elissa in Galveston.
I am part of the volunteer crew who train on the official tall ship of Texas and get to take her sailing for her annual sea trials each year. We are really good at maintaining one of the longest continually sailing vessels in the country, instruction on traditional seamanship, youth education programs, climbing, sailing and getting exceptionally dirty. In April next year, she will sail in the Gulf Coast Tall Ship Challenge to three other ports on the Gulf Coast.