What is your current job and what does it entail?
I am a professor of chemical oceanography at the University of Delaware. My responsibilities include research, teaching, and service. My research is primarily involved with biogeochemical studies of the beginnings of food chains in oceans and estuaries. Specifically, we try to better understand the interchange of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen, and silicon between the water and microscopic algae and bacteria. I teach general oceanography at the undergraduate level, but most of my teaching is with graduate classes in chemical oceanography and through advising M.S. and Ph.D. students. I am involved with several national and international aquatic science societies where I dedicate time in helping run the organizations, in reviewing scientific manuscripts, and in assisting with coordination of scientific research meetings. I am also involved, more locally, with resource managers in development and implementation of coordinated monitoring and management plans for estuarine and coastal waters.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
What do like most about your career?
As a child, I was interested in nature and the environment, an interest encouraged by my parents. As I studied science in high school and college, my environmental interests grew with emphasis in the oceans. In contemplating graduate studies, I realized that my interests were multidisciplinary rather than being in a single science discipline. That ultimately led me into oceanography, a field where multidisciplinary research has been encouraged for many years.
I like the thrill of working on research problems that are on the edge of "new frontiers" in scientific understanding. We know so little about the real "workings" of the marine environment that our research constantly sheds light on new concepts and on new paradigms. I also like the fact that application of our research can have real time relevance to societal problems.
What do you like least about your career?
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of my career is that there are many fascinating research questions that I would like to investigate, but time is limited and it is difficult to obtain the funding to pursue many of the problems.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy the out of doors and love skiing and sailing when I can find the time. I enjoy music, mainly classical, and live theater.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field?
Two of my main heroes are Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Both had amazing inquiring minds and were very creative thinkers and researchers.
I often give advice to high school students who express interest in pursing a marine career. My advice is to study basic science and math and to excel in whatever you do. Marine science is a composite of various applied sciences. However, in order to do well in the applied areas found in oceanography, one must have a solid science and math background.
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
I feel that career opportunities in oceanography are increasing and potentially increasingly dramatically. We are currently facing and will face even more serious environmental problems in the 21st century. We need individuals with strong multidisciplinary training to attack these problems; research-oriented training in oceanography is an ideal background for such attacks. We have placed oceanography and marine biology graduates (both at the M.S. and Ph.D. level) from my institution in diverse careers. In addition to the more traditional academic research placement, our graduates are working in local, state and federal resource management agencies, in industry, in secondary education and undergraduate institutions, in informal education, and in environmental policy groups. The broad training in oceanography with hands on experience with research has provided our graduates with excellent tools for these diverse careers.
What will you be doing 10 years from today?
I plan to be continuing my research and teaching with enthusiasm.