About Me

For those that want some more information about me:

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the oldest of two. I have a younger brother, Greg Alley , who is about 5 years younger than me who was also born in Phoenix and is now teaching elementary school and living in the Sacramento area. During the second grade, my dad got a job transfer and we moved to San Diego (Rancho Penasquitos, near Poway to be specific). My parents still live in the house that I grew up in. I went to Mt. Carmel High School (home of the Sundevils) for those of that are familiar with the San Diego area.

When it came time for college, I selected California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. I was a an aeronautical engineering major and I really liked the hands-on learning style and the "learn by doing" approach at Cal Poly. My first year at Cal Poly, I lived in the dorms (Sierra Madre, Tower 2 to be exact) like most students and met most of my close friends to this day that first year in the dorms. In fact, I also met someone else very important that first year. I met my future husband, Dylan Retsek, in the dorms. He lived on the first floor and I lived on the second floor. We started dating my freshman year and we have been together ever since. (Pretty sick, really, I know!)

I lasted in the Aeronautical Engineering Department for only 2 quarters or so before I decided I really missed the pure sciences, particularly Chemistry. I changed my major to Biochemistry on the advice of a family friend and a couple of years later added the Chemistry major. When I finished my 5 years, I ended up double majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

After that, I decided I wanted to learn more about chemistry and wanted to go on to graduate school. I decided to branch out of the Southwest US and try the Midwest for a few years for graduate school. I concentrated my applications in that area and ultimately decided to go with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. A very highly-ranked university (and very expensive private school) that is more well-known in the Midwest than it typically is on the West Coast. Most people are more familiar with their very highly-ranked Medical School. I liked the smaller environment than at some of the larger universities I visited. WashU (as it is called by those in the know) was more like Cal Poly than some of the other schools I visited so I think this is why I chose WashU.

While at Washington University, I joined the group of Dr. Dewey Holten in the chemistry department and I started my work on nonplanar porphyrins. I did what is considered photophysics (simple version: how the molecules respond to light) on some synthetic samples that were prepared by Dr. Kevin Smith's group at UC Davis. I got to play with lasers and some optics during my graduate school work and if you are interested, stop on by and I'll gladly talk about it further with you. While in St. Louis, I also met some great people and I became a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. Kind of hard to avoid while living in St. Louis. I lived in St. Louis during the big home run chase year between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Exciting times!

While in graduate school at Washington University, Dylan and I got married in May 1999. (He was attending Wash U's math department at this time as well. Coincidence? You decide.)

We completed graduate school, moved to Fresno, California and we both taught at Fresno State for a year. Dylan (tenure-track in math) and me (part-time lecturer in chemistry). We liked Fresno a lot, but we really liked San Luis Obispo, so when two openings appeared at Cal Poly, we jumped at the chance and applied. Luckily for us, we got the positions and now Dylan is tenured in math, and I am a lecturer in the chemistry department.

On May 22, 2007, we added to our family and our son, Finn William was born. (Pictures to come, I promise! I know I am a terrible mom to not have any at the ready right now). And then May 12, 2010 Sloan Elizabeth was born and added to our family. In the past years we have juggled carrying for the kids while the other worked and then switching. This year, both of my kids are at the ASI Children's Center on campus and we are all adjusting to this transition. Mommy too especially after coming off a year off for me last year to stay home with the two of them.

We love the SLO life and working at Cal Poly. Before the kids came along, you may have seen us at a few of our favorite restaurants like Buona Tavola, Thai Palace, Big Sky, etc. or at the movies (particularly the Classic Movie Series at the Fremont). For a long time we didn't have cable, so we saw a lot of movies (either at the theater or on DVD). Now not so much; however, we are always happy to give recommendations or get them so if you have seen any good movies, pass them on. My husband and I are both sports nuts, and you may see us at various events or walking around downtown (now with a stroller). If you do, stop and say hi!