Tell us about your work/ research.
I am the research coordinator for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. My role is to provide a scientific basis for resource protection and management decisions. In many cases, this involves working closely with our partners to assess how existing information can be used to address an emerging issue. In other cases such as the mission we are currently on I design the study (seafloor mapping for example) to help inform our needs.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I have been fortunate to spend time on or near the ocean for much of my life. As an undergraduate I went to school at the University of California in Santa Barbara which is located right on the Pacific Ocean. It is hard not to be inspired by such a location.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I was very fortunate to have one of the leaders and original thinkers in the field of island biogeography, Dr. Sherwin Carlquist, as one of my professors. He had me interested in really trying to understand where the plants and animals are and why we find them where we do. I have since made my career mapping these distribution patterns to help inform management.
What element of your work/ study do you think is the most fascinating?
Our work during this mission aboard the Nautilus is focused on the exploration of the unknown reaches of the Sanctuary. Identifying regions unmapped and uncharted where we might find amazing habitats home to a diverse array of species is always exciting.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
After graduate school, I became a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science's Biogeography Branch at NOAA Headquarters in Washington DC. I was part of a unit specializing in mapping the distributions of marine plants and animals to aid decision makers faced with spatially explicit management decisions. I subsequently became Chief of that Branch, where I remained until coming west in July 2014 and taking on the role of Research Coordinator at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology - University of California, Santa Barbara 1996; Masters of Science in Biology - University of Houston 2000
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Ask lots of questions; take internships or fellowships with organizations you would like to work with; make sure you are having fun.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?
This project is part of a fantastic partnership between our National Marine Sanctuaries and Ocean Exploration Trust.