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What other types of things do you think that someone with your background could do?

I would say there are probably a wide variety of things that someone with this type of background can do. I think one of the advantages of going down the path of geography is that it is always looking at different aspects of the environment as opposed to focusing on any one thing. So having somewhat of a diverse background in terms of understanding a little bit about biology, ecology, geology and other things like that allows you to communicate better with people who are in the field focusing on the individual aspects of things.


What can the students or young people of today look forward to doing in the realm of ocean exploration in the near future?

It’s hard to gauge, we’ve seen so many changes just in this small period of time- 7 years or so that I have been involved in doing this type of work. And I continue to see the pace of that accelerate. Technologies are changing in terms of our ability to actually get to the bottom of the ocean and observe things remotely. Our ability to transfer data real-time certainly continues to expand and grow, so I just see the opportunities continue to accelerate.


With those evolving technologies, and evolving capabilities, do you see different types of jobs being pulled into what people can do?

Oh yeah, definitely, because when you go out to sea and get on a ship, at least for me, I was struck by the fact that this is really a community out at sea. Everything that you rely on ashore has to be replicated at sea. A lot of things that you don’t even think about, such as electricity, water and sewage, food and things like that. It really is a microcosm of a community at sea, so when you talk in terms of opportunity, I mean people that work onboard the ship include chefs, janitors… every job that you would see in a community is replicated on board the ship, up to the higher level positions - running the ship itself, being the ship’s captain, being the chief engineer, being a deck hand who understands the equipment on the deck and how that actually operates to deploy the instruments that you need to do. So there are technical positions, engineering positions, regular what you would call “blue-collar” positions, and then there are the science positions as well. So I see people from many different backgrounds working on the ships out there as well. It’s incredible.


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John McDonough Profile


Please note that all OceanAGE Career content was current at the time that interviews were recorded; however, profiles are not being updated to reflect subsequent career changes.