Randy Holland photo

Miranda (Randy) Holland

Science/Data Team
Research Assistant II
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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

I am a marine biologist and ecologist. I primarily work with environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding, a technique that allows us to use DNA from water samples- like those we’re collecting on this cruise- to identify what organisms were within the study area. This data helps us to better understand what’s happening in the deep sea, which, while it is the largest ecosystem on Earth, is understudied.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I have always loved animals and nature, I knew by the end of high school that I wanted to pursue a career in biology. As an undergraduate, I was fortunate enough to experience marine biology through both field work and lab work. I discovered that I loved marine research- all of the beautiful scenery, fascinating creatures, and research challenges- that it presents.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My parents have always supported me and encouraged me to chase my passions. When that passion became marine biology, my advisor at Southern Connecticut State University, Dr. Emma Cross, helped me to further pursue those interests. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know that I’d be where I am today.

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

I am fascinated by ecology, and love trying to picture everything that makes an ecosystem what it is. All of the organisms and natural phenomena are parts of that system interacting with, impacting, and changing one another. Trying to understand how all of these unique elements work together to create an ecosystem is fascinating to me.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

After finishing my Master’s, I was interested in getting more practical field and lab experience before continuing on to a Ph.D. When I heard that Dr. Annette Govindarajan, who advised me as a guest student throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, had an opening in her lab with time at sea, I went for it!

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I’ve had a variety of jobs since I started working in high school - from Summer Camp Counselor to Farm Apprentice to Kelp Hatchery Intern. My work on Common Ground High School’s small-scale farm sparked my interest in how humans and human activity like food production impact the environment. As an undergrad, I conducted marine biodiversity research with Dr. Emma Cross at Southern Connecticut State University. That research, which I continued as a graduate student, fueled my interests in marine biology and ecology.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Systems and Sustainability Studies with a minor in Biology (2021), Masters of Science in Integrated Biological Diversity (2022)

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy playing tabletop roleplaying games, video games, doing counted cross stitch, yoga, cooking, and baking!

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

If you want a career in science, seize every opportunity you find and keep building connections! You never know what skills will end up being transferable and you never know where you might find your next collaborator. Get involved wherever you can and build your skillset!


Miranda (Randy) participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: