Suzanne Christensen

Hometown:  Stockholm, Sweden

Undergraduate education:  B.S. in Biology, concentration in Marine Biology. San Jose State University. Fall 2010.

Work experience before MLML:
I completed my undergraduate degree as an international student and therefore it was difficult to apply for both internships and jobs since I did not have residency or a work permit. Most of my experience in science is from course projects.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue marine science?

A:  The ocean has always been fascinating and mysterious to me, even when I was a young girl. Growing up in Stockholm, Sweden, I was always close to the water and it has always been a part of my life. However, I did not realize that I wanted to study Marine Science until I attended my first marine biology class at Foothill College in 2005. At this point I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to study the ocean and its magnificent species and processes within.

Q: What experiences and opportunities have shaped your path to get you where you are now?

A:  I arrived in the United States in the Fall of 2004, and back then I didn’t know that I wanted to study science at all.  In Sweden I had studied economics and this is what I thought I would continue in the U.S.. I had always felt passionate about the environment and the ocean but I honestly thought that I wasn’t smart enough to master a bachelor’s degree in science. So I started studying general studies at a community college. I enrolled in a marine biology class with a truly inspiring professor and after that class I knew I could study science and I changed my major to biology. My journey from entering the U.S for the first time until today has been like a roller-coaster ride at times but in the long run I feel that I am much more confident professionally and socially then when I left Sweden.

Q: What are you studying and why is it interesting and important to you?

A:  I am part of the Phycology laboratory at MLML but I have yet to decide what to pursue for my thesis work. I am very interested in population and community ecology and would like to increase my expertise in these areas.

Q: What are you hoping or planning to do when you finish?

A:  My future goal includes establishing a career within research, either in the public or academic sector.

Q: What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of graduate school?

A:  The most rewarding thing about graduate school is that you are surrounded by very smart people every day. You can always find someone to talk to about ideas or problems that you have. I always feel that I learned something new by the end of the day. The most challenging is probably to juggle school with your personal life, as it is important to try and set aside time for yourself.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get in to marine science?

A:  Try and get as much experience as possible. If you don’t have residency or a work permit try and volunteer for organizations or professors and start early in your academic career. Try many different areas in marine science so you have a better idea of what you like the best. Don’t be afraid to try something new because you might end up loving it. Last, never think that you aren’t smart enough or that you don’t have what it takes because you do!


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