Chris Ryen stands in front of the ocean

Christopher Ryen

Science Manager
Preserve Manager
The Nature Conservancy

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

I manage a research station on Palmyra Atoll in the equatorial Pacific. Researchers from institutions all over the world come to use our facilities in order to conduct their studies on different aspects of the marine ecosystem.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I have been interested in marine science for as long as I can remember. I've always been fascinated by the ocean and the life it supports and I always want to learn more. Throughout my life I have tried to work in or near the ocean as much as possible and it has continued to amaze me.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My undergraduate professors gave me a great education and pushed for me to apply to grad school.

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

The most fascinating aspect of my work is seeing the variety of research conducted. There are topics and questions being studied that have never crossed my mind and are incredibly interesting. I love learning about, and being a part of all the different projects.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

After my undergraduate studies, I taught SCUBA diving and worked as a first mate and naturalist for a snorkel and whale watching tour company. I have also managed a marine biology laboratory, worked as a fisheries observer aboard commercial fishing vessels, taught high school biology, and worked as a field site and project manager for a primate conservation center. In between jobs, I have spent a lot of time as a cook and bartender which is how I first got a job on Palmyra.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology - Hawai‘i Pacific University 2002
Graduate Diploma in Research Methods for Marine Biology- James Cook University 2004
Master of Science in Marine Biology - James Cook University 2008
Master SCUBA Diver Trainer - PADI

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy snorkeling, hiking, skiing, cooking, reading, and lots of other things.

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

My advice to anyone wanting to get into marine biology is to get as much experience as you can in different areas. Meet people and learn from them and stay in contact with people you have worked with. Networking is important to finding a path that fits your goals.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

I first heard of the Nautilus when one of the cruises came near Palmyra Atoll. A coworker who also worked on the Nautilus told me about Ocean Exploration Trust and the work they do.


Christopher participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: