Education and Research Specialist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA
A.B., 1984 University of California at Berkeley, Marine Biology emphasis; Ph.D., 1990 University of California, Los Angeles
-Open ocean and deep sea communities with particular emphasis on invertebrates,
-Ecology and biogeography of open ocean and deep sea organisms,
-functional morphology, natural history, and behavior of pelagic and benthic organisms
-Systematics and evolution of ctenophores and cnidarians (molecular phylogeny).
-Education initiatives at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Charter Member, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography,American Microscopal Society, American Geophyscial Union, American Behavioral Society (1985-1999), Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (1990 – 2000), Marine Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (1993–1997), Australian Association Environmental Education (1994–1997), Australian Littoral Society (1994–1997), Australian Marine Science Association (1994–1997), Ecos (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) (1994–1997),
My enthusiasm for science dates back to elementary school. I started off interested in sports and the outdoors. I had glasses and a crewcut and wasn’t very good at athletics, but that didn’t stop me from trying out for many different sports. In 5th grade, my parents signed me up for an overnight trip to Anacapa Island (one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California) where I was to learn snorkeling. This was the first time that I can remember looking around under the surface of the ocean. That weekend was a real eye opener for me for several reasons. I realized how incredible the oceans are and how much more I wanted to learn about them. At that time, black abalone were so abundant that they formed piles in the intertidal region. I learned about senorita fish and watched them clean other fish at cleaning stations. The kelp forest community was so rich and fascinating that I never noticed the cold temperature of the water. None of the students there that weekend wan! ted to get out of the water. Also around this time, I had became very involved in outdoor education with the city recreation department, signing up for as many trips as I could and, by the time I was in 7th grade, working as a volunteer.
Because of these early positive impressions, by the time I graduated from elementary school I knew that I was interested in all aspects of science. One of the great experiences I had in high school was when I volunteered for a summer to learn trail maintenance in Yosemite National Park (working for the Student Conservation Association, Inc.). This program included a lot of outdoor education instruction. I spent another wonderful summer working at the Veterans Administration, where I participated in my first research study, collecting stomach acid samples and analyzing them.
When I graduated from high school, I chose to attend the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) for its strong academic reputation. I continued to work in outdoor education in several areas, including two summers as a leader for the Student Conservation Association, Inc. My major at Berkeley was marine biology. I volunteered in a phycology (study of seaweeds) lab for three years and I also took the UCB scientific diving course which added to my strong interest to continue working in the marine environment.
I graduated from UCB and was still not certain what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I decided to take a year off and to investigate some options. I worked for the Catalina Island Marine Institute for a few months and found that I really enjoyed teaching. I also joined several different organizations and attended meetings. This enabled me to meet and maintain professional contacts that were invaluable in deciding where I went for graduate school as well as what happened in my life and career after finishing. To cover my bases, I took the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs) and the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). I ended up applying for graduate schools in marine science and medicine. I was accepted into both programs, but at the end of my time at CIMI, I had decided that marine science and education were where I wanted to focus my future studies.
I strongly advise you to join professional societies, attend meetings, and give presentations. Make an effort to meet people and let them get to know you. This is extremely important and I cannot stress the importance of this advice. There are lots of opportunities out there for you, but they are not going to come and drop in your lap. You will have to make an effort and make things happen for you.
In my case, after I had submitted all of my application materials, I went to a meeting for the American Academy of Underwater Scientists (AAUS) and listened to several days of fascinating talks. At the final dinner, I ended up sitting next to a scientist that I hadn’t met and in the course of our introductions, he found out that I was applying for graduate schools. He asked me if I had applied to UCLA to work with him and I told him that I had not as I didn’t realize that he was on the staff there. He offered me a place in his lab and a research diving trip to Antarctica. My thoughts about graduate school were dramatically revised after that evening. I had been accepted to Stanford University and was close to accepting until I went to this meeting. I decided on UCLA for my graduate work and never regretted my decision. During my time at UCLA, I did take advantage of opportunities that I found. I taught for 12 quarters as a teaching assistant, much more than the required t! hree q uarters, but I enjoyed teaching and needed the salary. The teaching experience was extremely important as I am sure that it helped me secure a job in academia after I finished my PhD program. I also applied for and was accepted for a new National Science Foundation program that offered to teach molecular biology techniques to students and teachers. My advisor was not in favor of my taking the time off for this course, but I was very eager to learn. Since then, I have used the information from this course for both my postdoctoral research program and my current research program. So, I strongly believe in taking advantage of opportunities that suit your interests.
After finishing my PhD, I took a post doc position at Hopkins Marine Station (Stanford University) and after a few months there, I was offered a faculty position at Flinders University of South Australia, which I accepted. After three years in Australia, I was offered my current position at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (http://www.mbari.org) as Education and Research Specialist. I love my job especially because I get to work in research and education, the best of both worlds. One of the highlights is coordinating our summer internship program for 10 students. You can find more information about the program at http://www.mbari.org/education .The advertisement for the program will come out in November with a February deadline.