My name is Dr. Beverly Goodman and I am a marine geoarchaeologist. The research that I do has a lot of variety day by day and week to week and this is one of the things that is really fun about it. When I am out of on an expedition, I might be doing a lot of diving, the actual work is collecting. I do a lot of sediment core collecting, which means going out, using scuba technology in order to collect. Basically, we put pipes into the ground in order to have a window into the sediments in the areas where we are looking.
Some research will require excavation work where we use an underwater vacuum in order to open up an area and excavate like you would excavate an archeological excavation on land. That's slightly different! There are other times when I'm teaching where I am focused on presenting lectures and preparing notes and presentations for public or students and courses. So, all the time there are changes, there's preparations for expeditions where we might have a few weeks for running, building, creating. And then you have the time where you are actually going out, collecting and doing. Once we have everything there is also the whole sequence of laboratory work where some days it could be work where the samples are being processed and analyzed on different machines. Sometimes there's a lot of work under the microscope where we are looking at what the material looks like, there's photography that happens, so it's a kind of work that everyday there's changes. Sometimes you are doing the same thing for ten hours straight and some days it changes every hour.
My career requires a lot of travel. Seems like I am almost always traveling. The regular field work that I do is in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. I've also done work in the Indian Ocean and very soon I'll be doing work in the Pacific.
The salary for a marine geoarchaeologist is basically the same as any academic position in the science and it varies a lot from country to country. I am actually based in Israel where the level of assistant professor has a salary of around $60,000 per year which is not the most lucrative career, but it is not something you would do for the money. It is something that you would have to enjoy what you are doing and appreciate all of the other benefits that you have from being able to have a career of something you really love which is the real reason you go into this kind of work.
The education requirements for this work requires a Ph.D. in order to be within a university or research institute that can support the research and allow you to make a contribution within that context. My job also requires a lot of other training. For example, you have to have some knowledge of how electricity works, you have to have some knowledge of engines work. In short you sort of need to be a "jack of all trades" to get the job done!
Someone with my background has actually had quite a few options in terms of different types of work. While I have taken my career in one direction, it is possible with my background to go into the oil industry, it is possible to go into environmental work. There are many options between teaching and research and industry.
Water has always held a central role in my life. My initial interest in ocean science was actually sparked on the Great Lakes, not the ocean. I was born on the Great Lakes and I grew up swimming and boating and fishing with all the folklore about ship wrecks and the animals in the sea. Eventually, this brought me to ocean sciences.
I was encouraged the most definitely by my family. But I also had a lot of support from teachers along the way who were willing to engage me and were willing to entertain all my curiosities.
So many things that I have worked on have been really and really interesting. But I have to say, we were working on an archeological site and we were coming across materials that people held and used thousands of years ago. This to me was one of the most fascinating and interesting things. In particular, one of the finds that always stands out in my mind is when I find things that are really personal. In one case we actually found a single sandal. I remember thinking when we found the sandal that I hate it when you lose one of your shoes—it is one of those things and I'm picturing this person two thousand years ago having the same feeling when they lost one of their shoes over the side of the boat.
The personal rewards of my work are that I get to be in the sea regularly as part of my work, and I get to satisfy my curiosity. If I have questions that are of interest to me I have the ability to go and try to solve them, to answer those questions. I also have the opportunity to teach and share this information with those around me and hopefully make a positive impact on the world.
The past is really a window into the future and being able to understand what has happened in the past will hopefully make us better prepared for the future. My research specifically is looking at identifying physical evidence for ancient events such as tsunamis and being able to use that to estimate what the risks are and to hopefully be better informed for decision making and coastal planning and management.
I mostly happy with the path I took to get to the career I have today. I don't have a lot of regrets. I think I did most of the things I wanted to do. But, there is just one thing. While I have spent a lot of time in the ocean and I have been on a lot of ships, I have actually never circumnavigated the world by boat. This is something that I definitely hope to be able to do and somewhat regret not doing it when I was younger.
I think my biggest challenge, the biggest obstacle that faced when I was going through my studies and trying to find my career path was answering the question "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Somehow, underwater coastal geoarchaeologist just wasn't on the list of possibilities that I was familiar with. I spent the first couple of years of my studies bouncing around from major to major and just had a very difficult time trying to figure it all out. Eventually, I decided, forget it! I'll just take subjects that I find interesting. In the end it all worked out. I still find that nothing I took went to waste. I use all the geology and the physics, and the photography and English that I studied throughout my studies. It all came together in the end.Return to profile