How did you hear about the Pacific Seabird Group (PSG)?
From my undergraduate advisor, who urged me to present my thesis work at the 2010 PSG Annual Meeting in Long Beach, California. It was my first professional conference and I was so intimidated, but everyone was so welcoming and I had a great time.
How did you transition from your Masters of Science (MS) to USGS?
Through a lucky chain of events! I was looking for a job and my current boss had work that needed to be done. My CV mentioned my work experience with some of his favorite species, Pink-footed Shearwater and Cassin’s Auklet. I think it was those birds that really caught his attention.
So, the birds made it happen?
Yes, and the local marine biology community – it’s a very open and accepting group. That’s my advice – always be open to connections – you never know where the next job or project inspiration will come from.
What inspiration did you carry forward from your MS?
I acquired my most valuable and translatable skills in the field: working with other scientists, understanding the dynamics of cooperation and collaboration, problem-solving. In grad school I also pushed myself to learn MatLab – that wasn’t the easiest route at the time, but it’s been immensely useful.
Do you look back longingly on those days?
I miss the learning environment: being surrounded by professors and other graduate students that can offer assistance and share their broader interests. In the workforce, if I want to develop a specific skill or deepen my knowledge on a certain subject, I usually need to teach myself.
But there are things you don’t miss?
Yeah – being stressed out about funding and finishing my thesis, spending weekends in the lab– I don’t miss those!
What do you work on now?
The potential impact of offshore wind energy development on seabirds, in the California Current and Hawaii.
Wow! What’s the dreamiest part of this dream job?
Putting tags on tropical seabirds in Hawaii and tracking their movements.
There’s probably a bunch of people reading this wanting to be just like you – what questions remain for next generation of seabird researchers?
So many! But generally questions directly translatable to conservation outcomes – chicks fledged, habitat restored, collisions avoided. I think one of the most important questions that remains is how to share the significance of our work with more people. How do we get more people passionate about marine conservation? Working at USGS has really opened my eyes to jobs available outside of academia – I’ve enjoyed learning with, and being part of, the USGS team.