Mychal Valle

Mychal Valle

Argus Pilot
PhD Student
University of California, Los Angeles

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

I am currently a PhD Student studying Physics at UCLA. In the past, I operated and maintained 3-D radars and their large-scale electronics in the US Navy for operational testing. Specifically, I worked on discovering new ways to push the limits of the ship's sensors and their capabilities for sea-surface, air, and orbital tracking operations for use across the Fleet. When I can, I am always excited to work aboard the Nautilus and to put my skills to use.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My relationship with science began when I first set sail with the US Navy. The fast-paced environment coupled with my work on complex electronics and intricate machinery quickly captured my curiosity. I was enthralled by the applications of electronics, as I witnessed the acquisition and tracking of objects in real-time. What made things even more special was that I participated in the Navy's test team for these new technologies, which, in turn, drove me to want to study and remain at the forefront of new science and technologies.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My fellow shipmates and the civilians with whom I worked noted my passion for physics and engineering and eagerly encouraged me to continue exploring new sciences, technologies, and applications. Their support continues to motivate me every day.

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

The most undeniably fascinating thing that I have come to appreciate is Physics, specifically that we experience the world through electromagnetic forces, from cell phones to radars to even our sense of touch and thoughts. As I dive deeper into Physics, I come to better understand that the
foundations of how we interact with and interpret the natural world, in its most basic form, is through electromagnetic forces. It blows my mind every time.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

Again, the Navy. During my enlistment time, I learned how to operate in many roles. When I first started, I began things from a technician's perspective, learning the ins and outs of the radar entrusted to me. I then moved into a more managerial role, where I coordinated with the ship's schedule, Port Operations, and civilian test teams to plan out maintenance, update and equipment install, and ship-wide operational test projects. Luckily, because I was stationed on a test ship, I had the opportunity to learn how to write and test out new maintenance procedures, and translate new operational capabilities in a concise technical manner for equipment manuals; this, on top of keeping up my Seamanship skills and duties. These experiences taught me that science is (and always has been) a team endeavor, anyone can participate, and that it can take place anywhere, even in the wildness of the open seas.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Current PhD student – Physics – University of California Los Angeles
2021 Bachelor of Science - Physics: Applied Physics and Engineering – University of California, Riverside
2019 Associates of Science in Physics, Math, and Natural Sciences - Pasadena City College
Electronic Technician Journeyman Certification - US Dept. of Labor

What are your hobbies?

Surfing, open water diving, performing stand-up and improv, cooking and baking fresh bread, and, of course, playing D&D with friends.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

Nautilus Live Instagram page. After following their page for a number of weeks, they posted that the Science & Engineering Internship Program applications had opened up. I then shot my shot and applied; luckily, I was selected, and I could not be happier to have joined, and to continue, the

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

The best advice I can give, at current, is to ask questions-- a lot of questions. Do not be afraid to look stupid, because, if you continually ask good questions, you'll look like you are learning. I have discovered that people in science love teaching as much as they love learning. Science is about asking questions. So-ask, listen, learn, repeat. Also, remember: There are many paths to a career. The best one for you is, often times, the one that challenges your personal perceived areas of weakness. These paths allow you to express the hidden strengths you developed to overcome them and in ways that are unique to you.