I was born and raised in Durham, NC (GO BLUE DEVILS!!!) where I live(d) with my parents and my two younger siblings. I come from a huge family, where I'm often referred to as "the water baby" (ironically I'm also a cancer). As of May 2019, I received by Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Marine Science at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.
What made you want to be a Marine Scientist?
Growing up my family and I went to Disney World in Orlando, FL EVERY SUMMER (side note: I no longer enjoy going to Disney World, so parents don't take your children to Disney every summer because contrary to popular belief, it DOES get old). We went to Sea World faithfully during each visit to the Happiest Place on Earth & this is where my infatuation with the ocean began (it was actually with dolphins but you get my point). Around the time when I was 7 or 8, I decided I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. I was so persistent that my parents bought me multiple books on how to pursue a career in training marine mammals (none of which I read and all of which were too advanced for my 1st/2nd grade reading level). Some years later, in elementary school I dismissed that career path and chose a new one: Dr. Boyd, the Veterinarian. I was an 'aspiring Veterinarian' from then, up until my junior year in high school (fun fact: I'm allergic to almost every animal with fur; dogs, cats, horses, etc. I'm not sure why I thought this career path would work or why my parents let me pursue this career for 6-7 years).
The summer after my 8th grade year, I learned how to swim and from there the water and I became very good friends. I became at lifeguard at 15, then a swim instructor at 17. My junior year of high school I took a marine science (M.S.) class, where I learned that marine science was actually a 'thing' and that there are people out here that make a living by playing with dolphins (at this point I was SOLD & as you probably guessed, I changed career paths). The summer before my senior year of high school I got accepted in the Marine Science Summer Scholars Program at the University of Miami. During the program at UM, I took two M.S. courses, in addition to participating in numerous hands-on M.S. labs. I also went snorkeling for the first time and swam with dolphins (which was a lifelong dream of mine). After that summer, my father and I spent countless hours researching colleges that had M.S. programs, I formed a list of ten schools and applied during my senior year. And with that I ended up in the same place that my infatuation began: Florida.
What is a Marine Scientist?
A marine scientist is someone who studies organism/ecosystems in the aquatic environment, this can range from large marine mammals (dolphins, seals, sea lions, etc.) to small microscopic organisms (plankton). There are a number of different topics marine scientist can study, these included: marine geology (studies rocks), marine botany (studies marine plants), marine chemistry (studies the chemicals that make up the ocean), marine biology (studies life in the ocean), etc. There are also a variety of jobs available to individuals who obtains a degree in marine science, some of which include: marine mammal trainer, marine researcher, M.S. professor or teacher, marine engineer, aquatic veterinarian, employee at an aquarium or marine sanctuary, employee for a government agency, such as NOAA, and the list goes on!
What type of research do you want to do?
As of now, I am most interested in studying marine ecology (the study of how organisms interact with their surrounding environment). Most scientist pick specific organisms to study, whether they are a marine biologist, ecologist, chemist, etc. For example, one person may be a marine biologist but they study the biology of dolphins (or any other organism). This is the "norm" in the scientific community. I am more interested in big-picture questions pertaining to ecological principals and theories and how they can be applied to different scenarios to better understand ecological relationships within a specific environment.
What is your ultimate career goal?
In addition to getting my Ph.D. and being successful within my field, my ultimate goal is to increase the number of minorities/underrepresented groups within the marine science field, as well as to educate these groups on what M.S. is and the various career paths within the field.
I would also like to own my own research lab and field station to assist me with my goal of increasing diversity in the marine science field.