Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences, Western Washington University; Director, Minorities in Marine Science Undergraduate Program (MIMSUP)
Ph.D., 1990 Florida State University, Biology; M.S., 1985 Brigham Young University, Utah,Zoology; B.S., 1983 Brigham Young University, Utah, Zoology
My personal research interests center on processes which structure marine benthic communities including larval supply, settlement, and early juvenile mortality. My recent work focuses on the effects of environmental stresses on epibenthic invertebrates.
Growing up in southeast Idaho, my exposure to marine science was largely restricted to Jacques Cousteau television specials until our family took a vacation to the coast of Oregon. Our visit happened to coincide with the lowest tides in a decade and my parents decided to take us to the beach. The experience had a profound impact on me. The exposed rocks with their amazing array of invertebrates was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. That beach visit decided my career.
By training, I am a marine ecologist. I study invertebrates with the goal of understanding why they live where they do, how are affected by their environment and how they interact with other organisms. These research approaches allow me to study the animalsí behavior, physiology, reproduction, and adaptations. My decision to pursue this line of research grew out of my fascination with the animals themselves. As an undergraduate, I knew I wanted to work directly with whole animals. I wanted to be in the field seeing and experiencing new things. Ecology was the obvious choice.
Looking at marine ecology career tracks, I decided that I wanted to earn a Ph.D. I felt that choice would give me the freedom to study what I wanted to while also allowing me to teach. I chose my undergraduate and graduate universities based on the quality of the educational experience I could get. I chose institutions that valued education and provided opportunities to get a solid foundation in math, science, physics and chemistry. My graduate institutions gave me outstanding opportunities to also get specialized marine education, often in the form of field experiences. As a graduate student I was involved in everything from scuba research in the Puget Sound to deep-sea submersible research in St. Croix. It was an amazing, exciting time.
I have never regretted my decision to pursue the career I did. Life, in my opinion, is too short to be stuck in a job you donít enjoy. Each day, I am excited to get up and go to work. There are always new things to see, new people to meet and new things to learn. I can honestly say, "I love my job".
For students thinking about careers, I advise finding something they feel passionate about. It is difficult to do that without gathering information and experiencing different fields. It requires reading, talking with people, volunteering, doing internships, and getting any information you can. It is also important to prioritize things in your own mind and know what motivates you. For some people it is money. Others value security. Still others value independence. There has to be a match between what the career offers and what you value. Be sure your career choice allows you to focus on your priorities. For me, that involves having a family and spending time with my wife and children. My position in academia gives me great freedom to be with them and to involve them directly in the things I do. I value that.
The world is filled with opportunities. Students today have amazing access to information and resources. Be informed. Be motivated. Be excellent. Know yourself and the opportunities will be there. Be ready to take advantage of them.