What she does:
Dr. Rayor is a scientist who studies arachnids (yes, we're talking spiders and scorpions!). She teaches spider biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and does research on spiders, wasps and tailless whip scorpions. Adds Rayor, "And people pay me to go to exotic places like Costa Rica and the Peruvian Amazon to lead ecotours!"
How she got to do what she does now:
As a kid, Rayor knew she wanted to be a scientist, but not the exact kind of scientist. So she tried different areas until one truly excited her. "Animal behavior was the right one!" she says. Rayor studied the behavior of prairie dogs in graduate school, then spiders in Mexico for her post-doctoral research.
What's so great about spiders?
"They're the most important terrestrial [land] predator, eating tons of insects a year." Rayor loves to watch them hunt because, she says, "They are so efficient and good at what they do. I keep so many tarantulas in my office that one of them is always doing something."
Uh...wait...exactly how many?
About 50 spiders and a lot more spiderlings. "You know how peaceful it is to watch a goldfish swimming around? In the same way, I feel happy just watching my tarantulas delicately groom their fangs."
Best part of the job:
"Sharing my enthusiasm for spiders in class."
Worst part of the job:
"Analyzing the data from research and writing it up into research papers."
Is her family creeped out by her work?
No wayexactly the opposite! Rayor first met her husband in graduate school, when they did a study of spitting spiders together. (Awwww!) And when they married, remembers Rayor, "I gave him a tarantula as a wedding gift!"
Advice for future arachnologists:
"Spend time looking at insects and spiders around your home. And take as many science classes as you can in high school and college. Aim high!"