Hayley Drennon

Hayley Drennon

Seafloor Mapper
Senior Research Staff Assistant
Columbia University- Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

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

I work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory as a Research assistant to Senior Research Scientist Dr.Vicki Ferrini. Under her leadership, our team is involved in various projects such as Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT), Seabed2030, and other seafloor mapping and data initiatives. We gather, process, and coordinate data ensuring that high-quality marine geoscience research data are made available to science and the public. My research is conducted synergistically with these projects, utilizing the seafloor data to characterize and analyze benthic habitats, with the goal of using these characterizations to inform future mapping endeavors.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Being born in a coastal town, my early years were steeped in marshland, tide pools, and sand dunes. The rich ecology of the Lowcountry spurred my desire to explore the natural world- drawn to understanding my environment. My other passion is for a good story, and I have found, throughout the years, that science is nothing if not a compelling, constantly evolving, story.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

I have been blessed to have many passionate teachers but I credit my two mentors with helping to guide me to where I am today. First, “Doc” Leslie Sautter initiated me into seafloor research through the College of Charlestons Benthic Acoustic Mapping and Surveying (BEAMS) program. Through Doc, I met Dr. Vicki Ferrini who continues to foster my research interests, while expanding my skills, knowledge and experiences within the marine science community. 

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

The most compelling element for myself currently, is being able to visualize for the first time, areas I have helped process/habitats I have characterized, via ROV/AUV and making first-order observations of the deep-sea coral ecosystems and the benthic organisms.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

My participation in the College of Charlestons Benthic Acoustic Mapping and Surveying (BEAMS) program led me to summer work at LDEO with Dr. Vicki Ferrini and the team. This work allowed for several seafloor mapping research and science communication and outreach with both College of Charleston and Dr. Ferrini's group.

What are your degrees and certifications?

BSci in Marine Biology, Geology (2020)

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy reading, hiking, and exploring. Whether it be through a good book, studying cultures from around the world, or wandering through a city— I love experiencing a good story.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

Lindsay Gee, Dr. Ferrini, and Erin Hefferon. Dr. Ferrini introduced me to Lindsay Gee and Erin Hefferon when I was presenting at AGU 2019 and OSM 2020, where I was invited to apply to become a part of the expedition team.

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

Finding schools with strong geoscience and ecology courses or programs is a good start. Make connections with your professors, they will often have resources or know of certificates/internships/programs that would serve your interests. Diversify your experiences and skillsets— find what makes you passionate, don’t pigeonhole yourself too early.



Hayley participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: