The Team

Ship Location

NE Pacific Ocean

Aubrey Foulk

Photo of Aubrey Foulk
Ocean Science Intern
Iowa State University

Tell us about your work / research. What kind of things do you do?

Throughout my undergraduate career, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of marine-based research projects spanning a wide range of disciplines. My primary research uses aspects of both geology and biology to understand past atmospheric and oceanic climate conditions in order to make predictions about future environmental change. By preparing cross-sectional slides of the bicarbonate shells of marine bivalves, I am creating a chronology to be used, in part with oxygen isotope ratios, to reconstruct Arctic sea surface temperatures. This information will provide an extensive historical record of environmental conditions, allowing depiction of natural oceanic climatic patterns. Other smaller projects have also included taking part in fish diversity surveys in the Caribbean and humpback whale studies in Hawaii.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I have always been intrigued by the mysteries of the ocean. My first oceanic discoveries were limited to what the waves brought to me. I was a relentless explorer: diligently sifting through the sand, scouring the beaches, and wading through the shallow waves. My first snorkeling set changed my viewpoint, opening the world under the waves. I now had the freedom to go after the discoveries I sought. Earning my scuba certification made the possibilities seem endless. My determination to pursue the things I am most passionate about has shaped the person I am today, and will continue to guide the scientist I am so eager to become. 

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My family has always been extremely supportive of anything I aspire to do. My parents taught me to value education and experiences over material things. Our priorities were traveling to national parks to experience history and nature, rather than keeping up with the latest trends. My brother was always my explorer buddy, as we would be out looking for wildlife every chance we got. My grandparents also helped nurture my innate attraction to water, as an annual Thanksgiving trip to Panama City Beach Florida allowed me to visit the ocean on a regular basis. Bass fishing trips in my grandparents’ boat also got me out on the water during the summers.     

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

On a trip to Norway a few summers ago, I had the opportunity to join a team of diverse oceanographers all conducting different types of research on the same bivalve species. I found witnessing the cross-disciplinary collaboration on a project to accomplish a common goal extremely fascinating.  

What other jobs led you to your current career?

As an undergraduate student, I am still working towards my first “official” career. However, serving as a chemistry teaching assistant this past fall at Iowa State has strengthened my passion to teach others about science.  

What are your degrees and certifications?

Working towards my B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science; Padi Open Water Scuba Diver.

What are your hobbies?

I love anything outdoors: hiking, fishing, sports, you name it! This past semester I participated in an exchange program to the University of Hawaii-Hilo, during which time you were most likely to find me at the beach snorkeling in any free time I came across. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, go seek them out. I got my first lab job after just talking to a graduate student who happened to come and talk to one of my classes my freshman year. Also, don’t limit yourself to a certain discipline, be open to learning about the subject that interests you from a variety of perspectives. It will open your eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

I applied for the SEIP internship after discovering the program on a short biography of a student who had received an REU I was considering applying for. After a little exploring on the website, the opportunity seemed too great to pass up!