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Catching bugs, getting muddy and launching careers: EGLE celebrates daughters for Women and Girls in Science Day

Tomorrow is the 8th annual International Women and Girls in Science Day, a day set aside to recognize the role of women and girls in science. Because the apple often falls close to the tree, MI Environment asked staffers at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to highlight their daughters who have an interest in science or already work in science-related careers.

Whether it’s a toddler colleting worms or a daughter joining her father working to protect Michigan’s environment as an EGLE environmental quality analyst, we’re proud of our daughters!

Name: Bryn Abrams

Age: 5

Daughter of: Cassie Abrams, Water Resource Division, Marquette

Bryn Abrams, 5 year old daughter of EGLE staffer Cassie Abrams, of the Water Resource Division in Marquette.


Bryn’s passion: The best part about planting our garden each spring is all the worms and grubs we find. As seen in Bryn’s picture, the dual use necklace and specimen container gets its fill of grasshoppers, toads, snakes, and an occasional salamander or butterfly. They are all released after proper documentation in her unicorn journal. Bryn doesn’t know exactly what Mom does for work, but she tells her friends that “she protects the water.” Living in the Upper Peninsula has given Bryn so many options to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. Her favorite places are at the beach picking rocks or waist deep in the river chasing water striders at our camp. Bryn is in kindergarten and as of this week she wants to be a music teacher when she grows up. That will likely change next week, maybe even tomorrow. Whether it’s a hobby or a career, she is starting a solid science foundation to build from.

Name: Brooke Armstrong

Age: 8

Daughter of: Brandon Armstrong, Aquatic Biology Specialist, Water Resources Division

Brooke Armstrong, daughter of Brandon Armstrong, holds a pike she caught.

Brooke’s passion: Brooke is an avid hunter and angler. She harvested her first whitetail deer this past fall and caught a master angler sized lake whitefish this winter. Her favorite hobby is chasing down tip-up flags and pulling in northern pike through the hardwater. While only halfway through 3rd grade, Brooke hopes to pursue an engineering career just like her mom. 


Name: Hazel Armstrong

Age: 5

Daughter of: Brandon Armstrong, Aquatic Biology Specialist, Water Resources Division

Hazel Armstrong, daughter of Brandon Armstrong, holds two snakes.

Hazel’s passion: Hazel is a biologist in training. There’s not an insect or animal too small, slimy, or scary that she doesn’t want to bring home as a pet. She enjoys camping at Michigan’s state parks, spending her days digging in the dirt searching for critters. Hazel wants to be a bug catcher (entomologist) when she grows up.


Names: Autumn, Winter, and Audra Boothroyd

Ages: 7,4,3

Daughters of Jeremy Boothroyd, Senior Geologist, Midland/Sanilac County Project Manager, EGLE-RRD-Bay City

Autumn, Winter, and Audra Boothroyd, daughters of Jeremy Boothroyd, holding nets standing on a boardwalk over wetland.

Passions:  These girls spend more time outside than one could ever hope for. With the advantages of homeschooling allowing for countless field trips and lots of playtime, they are usually exploring nature somewhere. Autumn really likes observing birds and reptiles and helping dad with the native flower beds in the yard. Win is our fearless crocodile hunter type, always delicately holding whatever she’s found. She figured out early on that she could handle the local bumblebee without much issue. Audra is our bug hunter and turtle counter and loves spending time walking in the woods and observing. All the kids love spending time at the nature center and the local gardens, as well as walking on public land up north and around our home.  They love to help with our conservation efforts on various properties and discuss the geology.


Name: Isabelle Clark

Age: 17

Daughter of: Alexandra (Alex) Clark, Enforcement Section Manager, Materials Management Division

Isabelle Clark,17-year-old daughter of  Alexandra Clark, Enforcement Section Manager, Materials Management Division., sitting on large rock.

Summary: Izzy is passionate about learning how complex things work, and this endless curiosity is what gravitates Izzy to all things science. When she’s not busy studying for her AP classes or working on her latest drawing, Izzy’s favorite things to do are hiking and photographing anywhere with water, rocks, mountains, or forests (near or far). Izzy is in her junior year of high school and is planning a course of study in medicine or the biological sciences when she attends college. 

Parents’ favorite “science curiosity” memory: When she was 5, Izzy chased a flock of seagulls down a Lake Michigan beach in hopes of learning more about them. Her parents were mortified when she actually caught one, but thankfully quickly released it.


Name: Izzy Cuncannan

Age: 15

Daughter of: Nancy Cuncannan, EQA Grand Rapids, WRD

Izzy Cuncannon, daughter of Nancy Cuncannon, next to a fairy house she built.

Izzy’s passion: Even though she is a teenager, she still loves to play outside, explore, dig in the sand, and make elaborate fairy houses. Izzy is always taking the path with the downed logs to balance beam across a stream or in search of a patch of hidden spring flowers. Izzy’s favorite flowers are cardinal flowers and lavender. Her favorite creatures are reptiles and amphibians, with the Massasauga rattlesnake being in the top spot. When other kids were screaming and jumping out of the lake when a snake was spotted swimming through, Izzy would immediately go straight for it to investigate. Izzy’s favorite place is a little camp in Hastings where she can unplug. She has spent countless hours at her camp catching crayfish and frogs in Falls Creek, and she still looks forward to her summers where she can just relax, make bracelets, paint, eat smores, and be outside with her friends.

Izzy is a sophomore in high school and is figuring out her future career choices. Options currently under consideration include herpetologist, some avenue with biology or ecology, but her most recent interest is anatomy and becoming a doctor.

Quote: As Izzy and a friend were walking back from playing in the creek when she was 10 years old, I overhead them talking; the little boy with her said, “Your mom is going to be so mad that you are all wet and muddy” and Izzy responded with, “The wetter and dirtier I am is a good way to show what a great day I had without using words, plus my mom would send me right back outside if I came to the cabin clean.”


Name: Allyson Hartz

Age: 24

Daughter of: Andy Hartz, District Supervisor in Water Resources Division

Allyson Hartz, daughter of Andy Hartz, in front of waterfall. She is also an EGLE staffer.

Allyson’s passion: Allyson grew up spending summers on Lake St Clair and camping at state parks all around Michigan. She found a passion for geology and went to Michigan Tech to earn a degree in geological engineering. After seeing her dad working for the state and protecting our natural resources, she decided to join EGLE too! Allyson is an Environmental Quality Analyst in the Remediation and Redevelopment Division.


Name: Ella Kecskemeti

Age: 15

Daughter of: Tracy Kecskemeti, assistant director of Materials Management Division

Ella Kecskemeti, 15 year old daughter of Tracy Kecskemeti, assistant director of Materials Management Division, standing on stone corner of balcony railing overlooking water.

Ella’s passion: Ella is interested in sustainability, plants, animals (especially sharks), hiking, camping, exploring, and the intersection of nature and art.  Her very favorite place is Camp Miniwanca, where she spends several weeks each summer unplugged and enjoying the forests and sand dunes on Lake Michigan. This summer she also plans to be a junior counselor at the Detroit Zoo’s summer camp program.  Ella is a freshman in high school and is still considering possible careers.  Options currently under consideration include teacher and marine biologist, although she’s not ruling out mermaid. 


Name: Grace Klang
Age: 20
Daughter of: Jen Klang, WRD-WQ Unit District Supervisor

Grace Klang, daughter of Jennifer Klang, standing next to Western Michigan University Pegasus IV rocket.

Grace’s passion: 
Grace is a sophomore working towards her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at Western Michigan University. She is also working on double-minors in mathematics and Japanese. She serves on several engineering student clubs, including the robotics and the rocket launch teams in a leadership role designing payload systems. Currently, she is planning to attend grad school where she can acquire a higher-level degree specializing in upper-atmosphere and space propulsion. Grace is planning to work with NASA and with Japanese aerospace companies to promote the future of mankind in their many humanitarian-based missions.  If she’s lucky, she’ll also get to be a part of NASA’s astronaut program. For now, though, she enjoys playing volleyball with friends, reading, and spending time with her family and boyfriend in her limited spare time.

Quote from Grace:
“I don’t think anyone is born to be or do one thing with their life, but I do know that no matter what path you take in life, it won’t be easy. However, figuring out what you want to do with your time on this planet, and all the people you meet along the way, always make the journey worthwhile.”


Name:  Delaney Lauckner

Age:  22

Daughter of:  Kris Lauckner, SEMA, Materials Management Division

Delaney Lauckner, daughter of Kris Lauckner, next to the Beaumont Tower on the Michigan State University campus.

Delaney’s passion:  Every hike, beach day, etc., since Delaney was little, has ended with pockets filled with rocks. Delaney has also always wanted to make the world better: in middle school, she created and led an initiative to stop bullying and build self-esteem; in high school, she created and carried out a plan to landscape around her school buildings with perennials and bushes that support native pollinators. Delaney is now a junior at Michigan State University in the environmental geosciences program; she wants a life of cleaning up and protecting the environment.


Name: Stella McGregor

Age: 6

Daughter of: Rick McGregor, EGLE RRD – Detroit District Office EQA

Stella McGregor, 6 six year old daughter of Rick McGregor, EGLE RRD – Detroit District Office EQA.

Stella’s passion: Stella is interested and curious about the natural sciences. She loves rocks, bugs, worms, and other animals (especially cheetahs). She loves exploring the Cranbrook Institute of Science and Johnson Nature Center in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and always finds something new on our visits to capture her imagination. Last summer, she spent three weeks connecting with nature at Camp Ohiyesa in Holly, Mich. When she grows up, she wants to be a cheetah scientist.


Name: Katie Philipps

Age: 20

Daughter of: Jennifer Philipps, training assistant in the Environmental Support Division

 Katie Philipps, daughter of Jennifer Philipps, leaning against red brick wall.

Katie’s passion: Katie is a second-year undergraduate student at Michigan State University majoring in zoology and plant biology. She obtained a position as a student research assistant in her first year and conducts research on the relationship between root structure growth and natural disease resistance in common beans. The focus of the research is to identify root system traits that will improve plant resistance to stressors.

Ecology, evolution, conservation, and biodiversity management are among Katie's scientific interests. She would like to attend graduate school and to research the best conservation methods for preventing extinction in small, isolated populations.

In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time outdoors with her friends, sewing, crocheting, and watching MSU basketball games in "The Izzone."

The sand cat is her favorite animal, and English lavender is her favorite plant.

Names: Charlotte and Riley Steffler

Ages: 9 and 12

Daughters of Mindy Steffler, WRD

Riley and Charlotte, daughters of Mindy Steffler, at Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, Michigan.

Their passion: They both love camping, learning about nature, and have a passion for protecting the earth. One of their favorite memories this year was seeing a huge manatee swimming in the ocean in Key Largo.


Name: Kelsi Wygant


Daughter of:  Adam Wygant, Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division Director/State Geologist

Kelsi Wygant, daughter of Adam Wygant, dives looking at shark.

Kelsi has had a passion for science and particularly fish from a very early age, wanting to be around water and in nature. She set her sights on being a marine biologist from 9 years old and never looked back. She obtained her bachelor of science degree in marine biology with a minor in geology from Bowling Green State University, with exciting marine experiences in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab, Mote Marine Laboratory, and Bimini Biological Field Station’s Shark Lab. COVID derailed an internship with the Georgia Aquarium taking care of whale sharks, so she completed a master of science degree in aquatic ecology at Bowling Green State University, studying Sandusky Bay pre-restoration fish community populations. She is currently working for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians at their fish hatchery in Levering, Mich.

Quote: “As a kid my dad took me out in the field with him every chance he could, and every vacation involved some sort of rock hunting adventure. I always knew I was going to become a fish biologist, but my dad really shaped my mindset of appreciation and reverence for nature. Now I work for a Tribe and get to spend every day working toward restoring and researching native fish populations in Northern Michigan.”