Hello all! I am so excited for those of you that are just beginning your marine biology class. I was lucky enough to be a member of the first marine biology class back in 2000. Honestly, I initially wanted to take the class because, well who doesn't want to go to the Bahamas for a week, and do it under the guise of academic enhancement? It wasn't too long into the class though that I realized I have discovered something that would stick with me. By April, when it was time to get on the plane to Fort Lauderdale, I was more excited about seeing these fish I had been staring at on paper for so long than about spending a week on the beach (I am not going to lie I was still pretty excited about that too). I was lucky enough to get to go back to Andros with a small group that summer and do some "research" on a sailing trip (I never actually turned that into anything though...).
While I love tropical marine biology (who doesn't want to work in an incredibly beautiful warm place?) I fell harder for fish, and watching fish do what they do.
I ended up going to the University of Georgia for my undergrad and got a BS in Ecology. The degree was great but what I really got out of my undergrad was some amazing mentors who have helped me define my interests and narrow down my goals.
After graduating from college I worked at the Analytical Chemistry Lab at the University of Georgia for a while doing stable isotope analysis, cool stuff but oh so increbidly boring to do the grunt work on. Which is of course what I was doing. Soon though, I got a temporary position with the US Forest Service and moved out to Idaho where I got to travel around to different streams and do habitat surveys. When that job ended in the fall I went back down to forfar, this time as an intern. I stayed there for ~7.5 months and then went back to Idaho.
This time I had a job with Idaho fish and game where I got to be flown into wilderrness areas and fly fish for steelhead so I could put tags in them. (we don't get paid much in natural resources but we do get some of the BEST jobs out there!)
About 8 months into that job I decided it was time to go back to school. I ended up coming to Utah State University to get my Masters in Ecology. Here I am investigating the role of chemical alarm cues (these compounds that freshwater fish store in their skin cells that are released when their skin is broken and scare the crap out of other fish of the same species when they smell them), in allowing native, endemic fish to learn to recognize the odor of nonnative predators. I am currently trying to write my thesis and get done with this degree, because I just accepted a phd position with Scott Heppell at Oregon State University. I have a graduate research assistanship for the first two years which will require that I spend one month a year on a boat in the bearing sea (cold!!!) helping with an ecosystem level project which aims to understand the productivity and sustainability of the bearing sea. But the cool part about this phd is that my research will actually (probably, I haven't 100% decided yet) be on Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations in the Caymans.
So in conclusion, it has been a long road, but a fun one. Starting with Nash's class up to now I have gotten to play with fish and have a sense of purpose and excitement about my life. thank you!