Hometown: Peterborough, NH
Undergrad: B.S. in Biological Science, University of Vermont (UVM), (2004)
Some questions for Danielle:
Q: Why did you decide to pursue marine science?
A: I have always loved being out on the ocean, and was fascinated by the adaptations that animals, (especially mammals, that breath air just like us) have that allow them to live in a totally aquatic environment. We would never survive there without thing like scuba or submarines, but they not only survive, they thrive!
Q: What experiences and opportunities have shaped your path to where you are now?
A: In high school I was part of my school’s Envirothon team. Envirothon is an environmental competition where students learn about and compete in challenges in different aspects of environmental science (soils, aquatics, forestry, wildlife, and a special current event that changes each year). Through Envirothon I learned firsthand many of the challenges of making science accessible to the public, and the challenges of integrating science into policy and management. The lessons I learned by doing Envirothon really helped shape way I think about science.
I was always interested in marine science, but in high school, I also became really interested in wetland ecology and forestry. I thought I wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree in marine biology, however, I was encouraged to get a basic biology degree instead. I was told that it would be better to start with a broad undergraduate degree; I could always narrow my field of study later on through a master’s degree or PhD. This is some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. As an undergraduate I got to take classes in microbiology, mammology, ornithlogy, plant ecology, environmental science, veterinary medicine and more.
Although I went to a landlocked college, I had the chance to take marine biology classes by studying abroad. I spent the spring semester of my junior year of college in Baja California, Mexico, where I took classes in coastal ecology, marine resource management, and studied the effects of whale watch tourism on gray whales. While I was in Mexico I realized that I wanted to go on to graduate school and pursue a career in marine biology. I am very grateful for the strong biology background that I received in at UVM, however, because it helped to make me a well rounded scientist.
Q: What are you studying and why do you find it interesting?
A: I am studying the effects of bird predation on juvenile salmon in two central California watersheds. Basically, we are trying to figure out how many fish the birds are eating! I find it interesting because it pulls together several of my interests: ecology, wetlands, marine birds, and fisheries management. The project is grounded in good, basic science, and also will provide useful information for management purposes.
Q: What are you hoping/planning to do when you finish?
A: I am still trying to figure that out. I love doing research, and have always wanted to work for the National Marine Fisheries Service, but I also really love teaching. By working on my master’s degree, it is helping me figure out what I want to do when I “grow up.”
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get in to marine science?
A: I am really glad that I got a degree in biology first, and I would recommend that students wishing to pursue a degree in marine science start broad, don’t just jump into marine science as an undergrad. Biology is a huge field and there are a lot of really interesting aspects of biology you can miss out on if you go right for marine science. Plus, by starting broad, you will be a more well-rounded scientist, and will understand marine biology better if you already understand basic microbiology or ecology. You can always narrow your field of interest later, but it is much harder to start narrow and then try to go broad. You will also be able to try out a lot of different things and figure out exactly what you want to do, who knows, you might decide you love bugs and want to be an entomologist instead
Find Out More!
Canon Envirothon: http://www.envirothon.org/