Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I am broadly interested in understanding the spatial patterns, environmental conditions, and physiological constraints that contribute to how resilient marine organisms are to climate change and other anthropogenic stressors. In 2016, I joined the Marine Conservation Institute, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting our oceans. My current research is focused on creating ecological models to understand and manage vulnerable marine species and habitats.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I spent a lot of time playing in streams and forests growing up, and always knew that I wanted to be some type of scientist. After spending a semester abroad in Australia and New Zealand, I fell in love with the ocean and decided to focus on marine biology.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My dad is an ecologist as well, and while he never pushed me to become a scientist, he always encouraged me to spend time outdoors, think through problems analytically, and be curious about our natural world.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
I create ecological models that try to predict the distribution of rare species based on fairly sparse environmental information. The most fascinating experience for me has been to actually go to these never-before explored areas and discover that the models were correct!
What other jobs led you to your current career?
During college, I spend most of my summers as a research assistant on projects ranging from water quality in New York lakes, invasive plant species, and seabird populations off the coast of Maine. These positions gave me the practical, hands-on experience that I needed to succeed in graduate school.
What are your degrees and certifications?
I received my Ph.D. in Biology in 2016 from Temple University studying the distribution and ecophysiology of deep-sea corals. Before that, I graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a B.S. in Biology from Hobart College.
What are your hobbies?
Mountains! After moving from a pretty flat part of the world to Seattle, I’ve taken full advantage of the amazing Pacific Northwest landscape. You’ll usually find me climbing, mountain biking, or skiing on most weekends.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?
I was first involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program in 2011 as a new graduate student at Temple University. We sailed from Italy to Israel and explored a newly discovered, massive black coral reef. It was an incredible experience, both the exploration and the collaboration with a diverse group of scientists, and I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to come back.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Get as much real-world experience as you possibly can, whether through internships, volunteering, jobs, or field courses. While it is still important to excel at school, this experience is often much more valuable than a high GPA. You also need this experience to know if it’s actually what you want to do with your life!
Samuel participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: