Kaitlin Baird, Women in an H2O world: Girl power in science (2), March 15, 2013

A few more career ideas from these exciting women!

Hillary Kates

Hillary Kates- Aquaculture Research Technician
Hillary Kates- Aquaculture Research Technician

Job Title:
Aquaculture Laboratory Technician
Algenol
Bonita Springs, Florida

What She does:
Research and development with blue-green algae, creating an algal technology platform for the production of ethanol. Basically, the company’s mission is to make an affordable and renewable biofuel out of algae for less than a dollar a gallon!

Favorite Aspect of job:
I get to work both outdoors and indoors working on everything from the aquaculture to the physiology of the algae. Its a fast-pace milestone-driven company so there is always something new to be learned!

What type of schooling/experience do you think best set you up for this job:
The National Science Foundation funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program in Bermuda provided me with an introduction to this field and with an exceptional experience that allowed me to find a job in it!

Karen Sullam

Karen Sullam- Researcher and student
Karen Sullam- Researcher and student

Job Title:
Graduate Student Researcher, Ph.D. Candidate at Drexel University, Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science

What She does:
Karen researches the ecology and evolution of fish and their gut bacteria. She uses three model systems for evolution to test her hypotheses about what shapes bacterial communities in fish and in their environment. These include guppies from Trinidad, which have locally adapted to stream environments with and without predators, Sticklebacks from Switzerland that either live in lake or stream environments, and cichlids from Africa that have adaptively radiated in Lake Tanganyika and consume incredibly diverse diets. Karen uses both collections from the wild and experimental manipulations to analyze the bacteria from fish and figure out what shapes their communities, with particular focus on fish diet, ecology and evolutionary history. She also works as a teaching assistant and teaches introductory biology to undergraduate students at Drexel University.

Favorite Aspect of job:
She has two favorite aspects of her job: learning and traveling. She really enjoys working in an academic setting because it provides an intellectually stimulating environment. As a student at a university, she has many opportunities to meet other scientists, hear different lectures and discuss ideas with other students or professors. She also loves having the opportunity to travel for her work. She has been able to go to Trinidad to conduct fieldwork there, and she has been on a Fulbright Scholarship to Switzerland. Both experiences provided a great opportunity to learn more about the natural environment and diverse cultures from different parts of the world.

What type of schooling/experience do you think best set you up for this job:
A bachelors degree in biology or a related field is necessary to become a PhD student in her field. Some students first complete a master’s degree, but it is not required for many programs in the United States. She also encourages people to apply to different scholarships and grants. The application process itself is a learning experience, and being awarded one can be life changing!

Kerstin Kalchmayr

Kerstin Kalchmayr- NY Oyster Program Coordinator
Kerstin Kalchmayr- NY Oyster Program Coordinator

Job title:
NY Oyster Program Coordinator
NY/NJ Baykeeper

What She does:
I manage the field aspect of the Oyster Restoration Research Project (ORRP). The ORRP is a multi-partner pilot study to understand how best to reintroduce oyster reefs to NY harbor. I schedule and coordinate field trips with partners, and oversee and manage all the data collection (biological and water quality) out at our experiment oyster reefs.  Part of my job is also to go out into the community and spread the word about the project and why oysters are so important. I also coordinate our Oyster Gardening Program, an environmental stewardship activity engaging New York City residents in taking care of a small cage of oysters. This program aims to reconnect NYC residents with their forgotten waterways and has grown in popularity over the years.

Favorite Aspect of Job:
My job has a nice balance of desk work and field work. I really enjoy being out in the field whether it’s on a boat or in waders come rain or shine. I see the city I live in (New York City) from an angle that many never get to see it from. I enjoy being close to the natural world, and keeping track on the daily tide levels and moon phases which I need to be aware of in order to schedule field trips. Because of the educational outreach aspect of my work I also come into contact with a wide variety of people, which is also an aspect of my job that I love.

What type of schooling/experience best set you up for this job:
For my undergrad I majored in Botany and Zoology so that definitely helped set me up to work in the environmental field. During my studies I volunteered in research projects as much as I could. Moving to a new city after my studies I found that volunteering for environmental organizations was a great way to break into the local environmental scene and meet the people involved. I feel it definitely helped me in getting my current job at NY/NJ Baykeeper.

Kathleen Mimoy Silvano

Kathleen Mimoy Silvano- Biological/Satellite Oceanographer
Kathleen Mimoy Silvano- Biological/Satellite Oceanographer

Job Title:
Biological (and Satellite)  Oceanographer

What She does:
I study these microscopic organisms in the ocean called plankton. These cute little creatures are key players in ocean processes like carbon cycle, fisheries, algal blooms, etc. Part of my job is to go out to sea to measure their abundance, and distribution in a certain area to find out how much they are contributing to the ocean processes mentioned above. I also look into the environmental conditions that could affect plankton to understand their dynamics. Getting measurements at sea means collecting seawater with plankton to be analyzed under a microscope, and deploying instruments that records information about the water at different depths. Another tool that I use to study the ocean are satellite images, a technique called satellite remote sensing. These satellite images are like “pictures” of the earth taken  from outer space, and may look simple but actually contains a lot of information on synoptic spatial coverages that cannot be achieved by going out to sea for days. Besides plankton applications, my colleagues and I use satellite images to detect and study coastal habitats (i.e., coral reefs, seagrass and seaweed beds and mangroves), and processes. This part of the job takes me underwater, diving to survey these habitats and moore instruments that would record water conditions for longer periods of time.

Favorite Aspect of job:
What I like most about my job is doing fieldwork, being out at sea, interacting and learning from other people from different fields. Handling instruments for me is fun as I usually call them my “toys,” and remote sensing is similar to putting colors in a coloring book but doing it in a hi-tech way with a computer, and finding the stories behind it.  Seeing the wonder below the surface (diving) helps me appreciate and reminds me why I am doing this job in the first place. The most fulfilling part about my job however, is when we (colleagues and I) impart to local communities and kids what we do and what we have found out; or see our study outputs (e.g., satellite maps and scientific results) actually being used by communities for fisheries, environmental management and policy making. Of course there’s much, much more work and technicalities behind the  “playing” and “coloring”, but this is just a way of saying how I’m enjoying what I do.

What type of schooling/experience do you think best set you up for this job:
Basic Biology would be a lot of help as well as being technically inclined to work with all sorts of tools. The biology doesn’t have to be specialized, as my background is actually pre-medicine biology. But I would say hands-on field experience and exposure is very valuable because it teaches things that cannot be learned inside a classroom or from a book. Luckily, I had the chance to have sea-time experience which I complemented with formal classroom trainings.

Marine Science Institute- University of the Philippines: my long-term affiliation (since I graduated B.S. degree, and where I actually worked as a biological oceanographer and on remote sensing on several projects. Main sites are Philippine waters, South China Sea, West Pacific boundary.

NF-POGO – BIOS: short-term training to update on techniques. Sites: North Atlantic, Sargasso Sea

Phytoclima Proj. – Universidade do Algarve (Portugal): current affiliation where we study phytoplankton responses to climate change. Site: Southwest Iberia.

Pamela Marsh

Pamela Marsh- Coastal Geologist
Pamela Marsh- Coastal Geologist
Job:
Coastal Geologist, most recently consulting with the National Park Service on Barrier Island Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.
What the job entails:
This position entails planning and conducting field studies related to sediment transportation along the barrier islands of the northern Gulf of Mexico.  It also involves reading landscape construction plans, technical documents, and regulations prepared by various branches of the federal government, state governments and environmental groups and providing scientific insight and comments to ensure that what is planned is within the realm of scientific possibility and that actions are based on science and not just on wishful thinking and on what is cheapest in the short run but more destructive in the long run. This position involves attending numerous meetings with people from a variety of government and non government organizations and acting as a liaison among the various organizations and being the person who is in the field making sure that the project work is being performed to specifications.  I am the translator who takes the scientific information and explains it to the non scientists.
Favorite aspects of the job:
I enjoy the field work most, especially the two weeks I got to spend aboard a coring ship in the Gulf of Mexico running a vibracorer to collect sediment samples from the sea bottom to see what type, color and size of sediment was present.  I also enjoy finding the flaws in the plans so they can be addressed before they cause problems.
What type of schooling/experience do you think best set you up for this job:
I have a variety of degrees that helped me prepare for this job.  I have an associates degree that focused mostly on communication.  Communication is very important when working with people, especially people who come from different backgrounds and don’t necessarily understand each other’s priorities and concerns.  I have a bachelors in Geography with a focus in Oceanography that gave me the opportunity to learn how the ocean works.  I have a masters and PhD in Geological Sciences that taught me how to design and carry out scientific studies and how to do field work.  Getting graduate degrees also required me to learn to read technical papers to understand the content and taught me to question what I read.  Not everything that is published is correct and it’s important to remember that.  I have a teaching background that comes in handy in explaining things to people who don’t have much background in the subject.  I think all these things are important in order to do this sort of job well.  While a graduate degree may not be strictly required for a job of this type, all the scientific staff have PhDs and all the regulatory staff have at least a masters on this project.
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