Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?
As a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I work at an aquarium/touch tank facility called the Research Experience and Education Facility, or REEF. We communicate ocean science to children on field trips and the general public with an emphasis on why the Santa Barbara channel is so amazing! My job is sort of two sided, I teach students on field trips using the touch tanks and the surrounding beach, but I also work as the Tropical Aquarist, taking care of a 560-gallon tropical tank and a 28-gallon tank. In addition, I am a SCUBA diver for the Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research Project on campus. I collect data on giant kelp forests and I do surveys on invertebrates found out on Santa Barbara’s rocky reefs.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
My first SCUBA dive out on Anacapa Island, one of the Channel Islands the E/V Nautilus explores, was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I saw such an amazing diversity of life–I can’t recommend it enough to someone looking to explore the ocean in a new way.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My current boss and director of the Research Experience and Education Facility, Mr. Scott Simon, opened the door to view the ocean as a scientist for me. He continues to teach me so much while introducing me to other experiences on campus. He pushes me and challenges me every day to be a little better and to know a little more than the previous day. I cannot thank him enough!
What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?
What I love the most about my job is that it is an entire full circle. While collecting data on SCUBA, I see the ecosystem in its actual environment. I try to bring back this experience when I am talking with the general public and students on tours. I also am lucky to be able to take care of the fish and other organisms as well.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
In high school, I worked in part as a tutor, which really helped in developing communication skills and understanding the learning process.
What are your degrees and certifications?
American Academy of Underwater Scientists SCUBA diver
What are your hobbies?
I love basically any outdoor activity, especially surfing, biking, and playing baseball. I thoroughly enjoy being an ocean nerd too!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Although I haven't advanced very far in my field, I think being opportunistic is important. I always try to leave doors open, so I have the ability to follow what interests me.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?
I got involved through the Research Experience and Education Facility. One of the lessons our team leads with students involves the Nautilus Live interactivity with the ship. One of my goals in working on the boat is to be able to have an amazing experience to share with the students when I get back on land.