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Sara Heintzelman

Scientist Ashore / Communications
Field Excursions & Social Media Manager
Greater Farallones Association

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

I run the Sanctuary Explorations series, which provides monthly opportunities for the public to connect with and experience their Sanctuary through fun excursions while learning ocean conservation ethics and wildlife etiquette. Using social media as a virtual education tool, I reach out to a global audience with amazing photos and interesting information about the Sanctuary and its fascinating inhabitants.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I was always fascinated by the natural world, looking at patterns, observing connections, and enjoying the wonder every time I was outside. The ocean and beach were my favorite place to be and inspired continued curiosity. After having both inspiring and not so inspiring biology teachers in high school, I decided to pursue a degree in ecology. While there was not an undergraduate marine science degree at UC San Diego when I attended, I spent a lot of time down at Scripps getting hands on experience in marine research and spent a semester abroad with SEA before pursuing my graduate degree in Marine Science at UCSB.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My parents love of the coast definitely laid a strong foundation for my future.

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

I love that there is always something new to see or explore. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to share so many incredible habitats, creatures, and experiences with participants in our programs and am constantly fascinated by the sense of awe that is always there for our natural world.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

After experiences with field research, lab work, formal education, and public programs, I became passionate about sharing the results of all of the amazing scientific research taking place with the general public in a way that makes it meaningful and digestible.

What are your degrees and certifications?

B.S. Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution -- University of California, San Diego; M.S. Marine Science-- University of California, Santa Barbara

What are your hobbies?

I love being outdoors, especially on the water- paddleboarding, kayaking, or hiking along our coast. I'm also a very novice ukulele player, but have enjoyed trying something completely new!

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

Get as much hands on experience as you can through volunteer positions, internships, and jobs to figure out where your niche is. Be curious, challenge yourself, and be creative in your approach and most importantly- always keep learning from those around you and the world around you!


Sara participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: