Taylorann Smith headshot photo

Taylorann Smith

She / They
Science Manager
Graduate Student
University of California Los Angeles

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

My current research is investigating microplastic pollution in the deep ocean, both in protected and unprotected waters. I am interested in understanding what types of plastics may accumulate in the deep-sea and if various biological communities are ingesting them, even in the most remote places.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Growing up, I never knew being a scientist was an actual job, so when I went to college, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I ultimately decided to pursue marine science my first year of college when I saw the Mission Blue documentary on Netflix, and I learned that my passion for nature and protecting it could be a career.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My mother has always encouraged me to chase my dreams. My mother did not attend college, but wanted my sister and I to have a good education. I am forever thankful for her encouragement and love through the journey!

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

The most fascinating thing about this work is the element of pure exploration, and humbly accepting that there is still so much to learn and to be discovered.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

Honestly before this, I didn’t have any glamorous jobs that led me here, but my passion as a student did, and I am so thankful for that.

What are your degrees and certifications?

I have a B.S. in Biology, and am working on my M.S. in Marine Biology. I have AAUS scientific diving certification, and MOTC boating certification.

What are your hobbies?

I love to create in any form whether that be painting or drawing, writing poetry, or learning a new medium. I also enjoy scuba diving, exploring in nature, singing, designing clothing etc.

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?

I got started with OET through the ocean science internship program, I highly recommend applying!

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

Never be afraid to be who you are, and speak up if you are unable to. Also, focus on community building; be there for your community, and lean on them when you are in need of support. Chasing your dreams is hard work, but you can do it, and you deserve to be here!