Sandra Brooke: Introduction
My name is Sandra Brooke and my title, I have two titles, actually. I’m the Director of Coral Conservation at the Marine Conservation Institute and I’m also a Research Associate at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.
About Sandra’s Job
My work is rather varied. I work for the Marine Conservation Institute and I’m the Director of Coral Conservation which sounds rather grand, but what I do, for the most part, is provide scientific information to our policy department so that the policy amendments that they are requesting from Congress are scientifically defensible.
I also hold the conservation seat for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council and I work with the Fisheries Management Councils to advocate for and provide scientific information for protection, primarily of deep coral habitats, but also other vulnerable ecosystems.
For my academic position, I go to sea, I write research proposals, I collect data, I go back to the laboratory, and I analyze it. And my research focuses on deep-sea coral ecosystems, physiology, ecology, biology, habitat characterizations, that kind of thing.
On average, I travel about once a month, mostly to meetings, unfortunately, which aren’t particularly interesting most of the time. But I also travel to scientific conferences which are much more fun and rewarding. And, of course, the research cruises. I usually have one cruise a year, maybe two.
Salary and Requirements
The salary range for the kinds of work that I do, the Marine Conservation Institute-type position, the non-government organization, that probably is a little bit lower than academia, between 60 and 80. Academic positions tend to pay a little bit more, 65 to 85, and then upwards from that for senior positions.
I require a PhD for the academic position. For the conservation position, the Marine Conservation Institute likes their scientists to have PhDs, but a master’s degree and appropriate experience is perfectly acceptable also.
Anybody with a strong scientific or biological background has various career options. Academia is one, of course, if you want to choose the PhD route and become a professor. There’s also other options, such as state and federal government research. You can teach anything up to a university level. You can work for a non-profit, like I do. Or you can go in to scientific journalism. There are quite a lot of options for someone with a strong background in science.