Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
My current research focus is on the sources, loads, and effects of anthropogenic pollutants on marine environments, with an emphasis on Monterey Bay. I am the Director of the Central Coast Long-term Environmental Assessment network (CCLEAN), which is a regional water quality monitoring program in the Monterey Bay area. Since 2002 we have been using in situ solid-phase extraction to achieve very low detection limits for measuring loads of legacy and current use of agricultural and industrial chemicals from municipal wastewater and major rivers in the area. We make the same measurements in ocean waters, the tissues of resident mussels, and sediments. My greatest satisfaction comes when I use ancillary data from other sources to help interpret spatial and temporal patterns in our data.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I knew I wanted to study marine ecosystems since I was in high school after visiting the seashore and observing the myriad amazing creatures that inhabited rocky shores and tidal flats. I was very fortunate to have early opportunities to conduct original research and my awe of and fascination with the sea has continued to grow. I have also become very aware of the effects of human activities on the oceans and the peril those effects have for the entire biosphere of the Earth.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I have been very fortunate to have encouraging teachers in high school and at the university who taught me to closely observe and to ask questions about what I was seeing in nature. They encouraged me to perform science, even in my own backyard. As a result of their teaching, I have become a life-long learner.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
The most fascinating element of my current work is being able to partition natural and human-associated influences on spatial and temporal patterns of contaminant concentrations in Monterey Bay. By describing the effects of ongoing human activities on elevated concentrations of harmful contaminants in the sea, regulatory actions can be implemented to limit or eliminate the release of these contaminants into the ocean.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
My previous jobs have included being a research assistant for a Sea Grant-funded rocky intertidal monitoring program in along the Central California coast and being a consulting taxonomist for shallow subtidal studies of rocky reef organisms. I have previously conducted studies of deep subtidal rocky substrate assemblages using 2-person submersibles and ROVs. These studies included pioneering photographic sampling that used lasers to ensure consistent area coverage in each photographic sample.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Arts in Biology -- University of California Santa Cruz 1967; Candidate in Philosophy Biology -- University of California Santa Cruz, 1975
What are your hobbies?
I love to travel, garden, cook, and play with my dog.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
It really helps to have a passion for science and learning about the world around you. Marine science is a crowded field, but if you love to learn and take advantage of opportunities to volunteer or work on research projects, you will make your way. As important as a passion the science is an ability to write well. Good scientific writing is important because it is the skill that enables you to communicate your findings to other scientists, legislators, and the public.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?
Through my collaboration with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to reduce contaminants in the ocean, my ideas were solicited for studies to fill gaps in our knowledge of water quality in the Sanctuary. The work aboard the E/V Nautilus will be an important element of those studies.