Research Lab Associate, Science

conservation image

Although born in California, Joy spent the first half of her childhood in Hawaii, which included life on a Kauai commune until the age of three. Her mother, a trained classical pianist, started performing with local bands and ultimately moved Joy and her younger brother back to Los Angeles, where she could better pursue a music career. The move was a culture shock for Joy, but it also brought her closer to her grandparents. Her grandmother, a music professor at USC, and her grandfather, the head of a seminary, gave her both inspiration and encouragement.

Joy had thought she would work in the arts, but at Pierce College in Los Angeles, she discovered that she had an aptitude for math and logic, as well as for geology and chemistry. After transferring to U.C. Davis, she majored in environmental biology and management, and during her last year at college she worked as a soil scientist on a project for the National Forest Service. After graduation, she did a summer internship with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, working on plant identification and restoration.

During the next year, she was employed part-time as a public school science teacher until landing a full-time job with an environmental laboratory. Over the next two and a half years, she sharpened her laboratory skills, particularly in gas chromatography (GC). When the laboratory closed in 1998, it was her experience with GC that landed her a temporary position in the GCI's analytical lab—a position that ultimately became a regular one.

Since coming to the Institute, Joy has particularly enjoyed working on identification of plant gums and on analysis of binding media in paint samples from the Mogao grottoes in China, research that utilizes her knowledge of plants. She has also enjoyed working with the GCI's science interns, who come from around the world. In addition to her current work on the Institute's modern paint research project, she has developed a research project of her own—working with an artist to try to reproduce the ancient Hawaiian technique of making cloth from bark indigenous to Hawaii.

Joy is earning a master's degree in biology from California State University, Northridge, focusing on the biodeterioration of cultural heritage. In her spare time, she writes poetry, a sample of which was published in a Getty staff publication featuring the literary talents of Getty employees.