Beverly Goodman: OceanAGE Career Profile
Meet Beverly Goodman, a marine geoarchaeologist who travels around the globe for a job that is full of variety and puzzles! Read the full text of Beverly's interview below to learn more about her job.
About the Job
What is your title?
Where do you work?
I am currently actively involved in projects in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
Do you travel often? To where?
It seems like I am always travelling. For field work I travel to the Red Sea (Jordan, Israel), Mediterranean (Israel, Greece, Turkey. Italy), and the Gulf of Mexico (Yucaton). I also travel often for conferences, teaching, and meeting with collaborators.
What are the educational requirements for your job?
My research requires a Ph.D. Having a Ph.D. makes it possible to apply for research grants, receive permits, and gain university support. My job also requires a lot of scuba training, knowledge of engines and mechanics, electricity, photography. In many ways you have to be a jack-of-all-trades to be able to get things done.
What is the salary range for someone with your type of job?
The salary greatly varies by country. Currently I am an assistant professor at the University of Haifa—where the beginning salary is around $60,000. It isn’t the most lucrative career, especially given the number of years of study. On the other hand, it is a career that allows me to wake up everyday looking forward to the next task and challenge, and I have the opportunity to work towards improving the planet, which is far more valuable to me than making a lot of money.
How many hours do you work per week?
A research academic position requires a lot of time. Most weeks I am working at least 50 to 60 hours, and during expeditions and field courses that can go as high as 70 or 80! Fortunately I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like ‘work’.
Tell us about the types of things you do.
The research I do has a lot of variety day-to-day and project-to-project. In many of my projects I collect cores to help reconstruct what the environment of a place looked like in the past. The cores might be collected by hand-hammering into the sea bottom, or in some cases with more specialized dive equipment and complicated air hammer systems. It all depends on the location, water depth, and research question. On other occasions I excavated underwater with a specialized underwater ‘vacuum’ that helps me get the samples that I am interested in. Once the samples are collected they come to the laboratory where they are washed and analyzed to answer questions about the past. Specifically, I am answering questions about where ancient harbors were located and whether they were impacted by disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes. In addition, I use the same techniques to study the modern impact of fish farming on the sea bottom, explore for new ways to understand climate change, and discover new tools for interpreting ancient marine systems.
What is the most fascinating thing you have ever seen or done?
So many things that I have worked on have been really exciting. For me, it is always exciting and surprising when I come across archaeological artifacts that are very personal in nature, things like hair combs or shoes. Once I came across one 2000-year-old leather sandal, and all I could think was, ‘I hate it when I lose one shoe!’ I imagine that person 2000 years ago getting very annoyed when his shoe went overboard!
What are the personal rewards of your work?
My work allows me to be in the sea regularly, satisfy my curiosities about how people lived in the past, and I have the opportunity to discover information that can help us improve the world we live in and prepare better for the future.
How does your work benefit the public?
The past is a window into the future, and by reconstructing the histories of our coastline we can know what could be waiting for us in the future. My modern environmental work gives guidelines for how much the environment is being impacted by human activities. My research provides important information for coastal management and planning which impacts the public positively by making better decisions.
What else could someone with your background do?
My research area is very broad, so there are many directions someone with my background could choose, such as education, environmental planning, underwater archaeology, coastal engineering.
What sparked your initial interest in ocean sciences?
Water has always held a central role in my life, as I was born on the shores of Lake Michigan. While not an ocean, the Great Lakes held for me the same mystery and sense of endlessness. The rhythms and sounds of places on the water always held a special significance to me and I became curious from a young age about the underwater realm—shipwrecks, unique sea creatures, mysterious ancient drowned landscapes.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My family always supported my desire to work in the ocean—my first dive certification was a graduation gift. I also had a few creative and energetic teachers along the way who entertained my crazy ideas.
Looking back, was there anything you would have done differently in your education or career journey?
I am mostly happy with the path I chose, my one regret is not sailing around the world on a tall ship. Perhaps I will still do that!
What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
The most difficult obstacle for me was not knowing how to answer the question ‘what do I want to be when I grow up’. Somehow ‘underwater coastal geoarchaeologist’ was never on a list of options! I bounced around a lot between programs and institutions in my first 2 years of studies. I always had many favorite subjects and many possible paths. Ultimately, I decided to study everything that interested me, and I was fortunate to find my niche—but no one could have pointed the way for me. Today I use a little bit of all the things I studied (physics, photography, anthropology, archaeology, geology), and nothing went to waste.
What are your hobbies?
Hobbies? What is that? Truthfully many of my favorite pastimes are part of my daily work, so I feel like my work itself is a hobby! But when I do step away from work I love to read fiction, plan house renovations that will never happen, breed simple aquarium fish, cook, hike, bicycle, and garden.
Interests in Elementary School:
Swimming, Piano, Soccer, Gymnastics
Beginning of Interest in Marine Sciences:
Titanic discovery, Jacques Cousteau
First Marine Science Class:
Introduction to Geology (Devonian fishes!!)
Associate’s degree-general studies Harper College, Illinois, 1993
B.A. Anthropology- Archaeology emphasis University of Wisconsin-Madison 1995
M.A. Anthropology, Penn State University 1999
Ph.D. Geology- McMaster University Canada 2006
First Career-related Job:
Postdoctoral researcher: Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences, Red Sea 2006
Employment Journey / Career Transitions:
Café Barista- 1993-1996
Cultural Resource Management Archaeologist 1999-2000,
Corporate Anthropologist (Culture training) 2000-2001,
Postdoctoral Researcher 2006-2010,
Assistant Professor 2010-present
Fulbright scholar 2005
National Geographic Emerging Explorer 2009
Distinguished Alumni Award Harper College 2009
Alumni award McMaster University 2011
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