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My work benefits the public by expanding our understanding of biodiversity, obviously at the microbial level, and also by helping tease apart one small part of the puzzle that makes up coral ecosystems.
Some Job Perks
The personal rewards of my work are, one, that I really, I love my job, mostly because of the variety. Sometimes I’m working in the lab; sometimes I’m in the field, traveling, collecting samples; and that I get to travel all over the world. Also that, in the course of my work, I meet and work with so many other scientists who are passionate about what they do and that makes it really exciting. But, the travel all over the world is a huge bonus.
I think the most fascinating thing I’ve done during my career has been that I had the opportunity to ride in both the Delta and Johnson SeaLink submersibles, to actually go underwater and collect my own deep-sea corals. Because it was really amazing to be thousands of feet under the ocean, actually seeing these deep-sea corals in their natural environment and knowing that on any dive, I might be seeing something that no other person had ever seen before.
Because the microbiological and molecular techniques I use in the environment are basically the same as what you would use in a clinical setting, you could also work, potentially, in a clinical laboratory or a biotechnology company or a pharmaceutical company. Or also, because of my academic studies, I could also teach at a high school, community college, or university level.
Looking back, there’s nothing I would have changed in my sort of career path, but it really would have been nice if I’d had an opportunity to do research as an undergraduate. As it was, I had a work-study job in an office, and that was fine, but I really think having an undergraduate laboratory experience gives you a huge edge in graduate school and really helps you figure out whethter it’s something you’re going to love or not before you’ve made that time and financial commitment to graduate school.
And so, because I think it is so important, I try and make that opportunity available in my own lab and make time for undergraduates to come in and get a feel for the laboratory.