Nai'a Anderson headshot photo.

Nai'a Anderson

Seafloor Mapping Intern
Undergraduate Student
University of Hawai'i at Manoa

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

My work and research so far consist of strictly class work. I currently am an Environmental Earth Science major student and that is what keeps me busy. I have not gotten to go out in the field and actually sample and study rocks and land due to Covid, unfortunately. I have been learning about the earth in many different ways in the classroom however to help me with my future career in studying the environment however I choose to do so. I would definitely say I am at the very beginning of my career and will continue to specialize in learning for a little longer. Outside of science, I do have a job in catering that I love, but this job in seafloor mapping will be the true first step in my science-bound career.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Growing up, I always cared for the environment and desired to take care of it and improve it in any way possible. So when it was time to pick a career interest and a major, the only real option for me was Environmental Earth Science. I love rocks, shells, sand, trees, plants, and even dirt. I also have always enjoyed getting my hands dirty especially when I used to dig for worms (ew) I am now however much more refined. Caring about the environment and being allowed to explore in beautiful places as a kid led me to want to learn more about the planet we live on and to be more sustainable. This development led to a want to make real change by going to college and taking classes so I can advance and do just that with my life.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My parents and my family have encouraged me the most. My parents have supported me both mentally and physically in my endeavors as well as financially. They have always helped me follow my dreams wherever they take me. As a kid, they are the ones who inspired me to always want to learn and to care about the earth. My parents have truly made the most impact on my life in the best ways possible. My entire family has always thought my interest in the environment and science was amazing and interesting and they have always encouraged me to continue.

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

I think the most interesting thing I enjoy learning about is the mineral makeup and rock type of different parts of the land. Hawai'i is mostly made up of lava rock and recently I got to visit the only limestone cave on the Hawaiian Island of Kaua'i. It was amazing to see and experience such a rare find. I also love going to the beach with my cousins and telling them what minerals the sand is made up of, or even telling my friends the type of rocks they have in their water filter.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

Most of the things that have led me to my current major and interests have been through volunteering. Through lots of volunteering, I have discovered I love to help in any way I can. With my interest in the environment, I of course want to help and learn more about the environment and its many parts and ecosystems. I always learned through volunteering that I like working with people and in a team. I have done multiple beach cleanups and have basically grown up in and around the ocean, water just has a special place in my heart.

What are your degrees and certifications?

I currently have my associate's degree after two years as an undergraduate at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and am working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Earth Science.

What are your hobbies?

I love the outdoors so anything like hiking, kayaking, swimming, and bike riding is right up my alley. I enjoy doing anything in the water and I also like sports such as volleyball and water polo. Hanging out with family and friends, going shopping, and doing any kind of art are other hobbies I have as well.

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

Some advice that I would give to anyone wanting to go into Environmental Earth Science or any kind of earth and ocean science is to find out about clubs and internships and any outside-of-school programs that you can participate in. This will help you gain more skills and experience for your future career as well as help you decide what your most important and main interests are. Learning this information early can help you to be specific in the field you want to go into and allow you to sign up for the most helpful classes and programs that will be helpful to your career. It will also help you be able to do research on your desired career field in advance to find out everything you can about your future career. Doing these things early will help you make sure you stay on track and ensure you are prepared when things get harder and life gets more complicated. Even if you're not sure about a career, doing these things will help with fewer regrets and stress!

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

I applied to be a Seafloor Mapping Intern after hearing about the program from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology department at my school. I received an email describing the program and showing me how to apply and from there I was able to become part of the expedition team.



Nai'a participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: