The Team

Ship Location

San Pedro, USA

Susan Merle

Photo of Susan Merle
Science / Data Team
Sr. Research Assistant (Geology/Oceanography)
Oregon State University

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

I’m a senior research assistant at Oregon State University’s Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies as part of the NOAA EOI (Earth-Ocean Interactions) Program. My background is geological oceanography, and I specialize in seafloor data acquisition, processing, and analysis, as well as two-, three-, and four-dimensional rendering of ocean features and their geological interpretation. While at sea, I’ll be utilizing my seafloor and water column mapping experience to assist in our search for methane seeps along the Oregon and Washington margin. I will also aid in planning and implementation of remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives on newly-discovered and previously known methane seeps on the margin.  

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My love of the ocean, and frankly realizing that I didn't know a whole lot about it given my upbringing in Wisconsin. After living in Florida for a couple years and Alaska for five, I moved to Seattle Washington to pursue a degree in Oceanography. Since then I've never lived far from the water and absolutely love living and working on the beautiful Oregon coast.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My mother was my biggest influence, encouraging me to go back to school and pursue a degree. She was a teacher and wanted one of her kids to get a college education. I'm grateful to her everyday for her love and encouragement.

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

There's nothing more exciting than participating in remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives to the deep seafloor. We typically work on underwater volcanoes, and have been lucky enough to witness an explosive volcanic eruption over a mile deep at West Mata in the Northeast Lau Basin. That was stunning!

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Oceanography with an emphasis in geology and geophysics - University of Washington Seattle, 1991; Graduate certificate in Geographic Information Science - Oregon State University, 2013

What are your hobbies?

I love to garden. I also enjoy walking and relaxing on the beautiful Oregon coast beaches.

What advice would you give someone interested in a career like yours?

Stick with it. It's worth it.

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

Robert Embley is a mentor and co-worker with me in the NOAA Earth Ocean Interactions (EOI) program. He has put a tremendous amount of time and energy into planning this expedition and I thought I could help him out during the cruise as well. I am pretty handy at dealing with seafloor and water column data as well as ROV dives, and I believe that experience will be valuable.