Carla grew up in Olympia where she spent many hours on Budd Inlet observing and identifying creatures that lived on the beach. She was one of the first students to attend Evergreen State College, where she became captivated with studying the ecology of clams and snails. At Evergreen, she was also among the initial group of students and faculty to experience using a SEM. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Evergreen in 1975, Carla quickly realized that although clams were cool, fish was where the jobs were. In 1976, Carla began working at NOAA in the newly established electron microscopy lab. Studies on effects of chemical contaminants in the marine environment were just beginning, and she continues to be part of that research team today. She has also used the SEM to study fish eggs and embryos and identify diatom species responsible for harmful algal blooms. She completed a Masters of Science degree in 1981 at the University of Washington, School of Fisheries, using transmission and scanning electron microscopy to study development of fish eggs.
Carla has authored or co-authored over 25 papers in scientific journals, many of which include images captured with the transmission or scanning electron microscopes. A few of Carla’s images were included in an exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in 1983 and at the Microscopy Society of America (MSA) Annual Conference in 1990. A few micrographs were also juried into an exhibit sponsored by MSA that was displayed at the Pacific Science Center in 1994 and then traveled to other science museums from 1995 to 1999. Most recently, “Sea Unseen” an exhibit of Carla’s SEM images was displayed by the Seattle Aquarium from April 2009 until January 2010. This exhibit traveled to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in March 2010 and was on display until September 2010. A modified version of the exhibit was on display at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center from May 2010 until December 2010.
The aesthetic quality of the SEM images Carla saw at NOAA fueled her interest in art, and she currently spends her spare time creating contemporary fiber art inspired by her experiences with the marine environment.