Interview questions

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Mon Mar 25 2002 - 13:57:09 EST

Here are answers to your question:

1. Can you please describe your job for me.
I direct research on large whales for the Northeast Fisheries Science
Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I work on right whales and
humpbacks, mostly.

2. When did you become interested in marine biology?
I grew up by the sea, so have always been interested.

3. What got you interested in becoming a marine biologist?
Living by the sea. But I became interested in whales when I first saw
one in 1980.

4. What classes should students in High School take to prepare
themselves for a career in marine biology?
Biology, chemistry, physics.

5. What college classes should students take?
Same, and anything specialized within biology. Any marine science
courses if possible (oceanography etc).

6. What are the best colleges to study at?
Depends on what area of marine biology you want to get into. For whale
biology, it's any school with an active marine mammal research program.
On the east coast, this includes (for example) UNC Wilmington, Duke U,
Univ of Rhode Island, MIT, Boston University, College of the Atlantic.

7. Where did you go to school?
Undergraduate: University of London. PhD: University of Aberdeen

8. What degrees do you need and what do you have to become a marine
Doctorate is preferable, if you really want to work seriously in the

9. Where do you work?
Woods Hole, Massachusetts (on Cape Cod).

10. What are your duties/responsibilities at your job?
Designing and carrying out research, writing up the results in
scientific papers, advising federal and state managers on conservation.

11. Do you work with a specific animal?
Humpback whales and right whales, mostly. Sometimes fin and blue

12. What do you like about your job? Dislike?
I like being out in the field with whales. I dont like the bureaucracy!

13. What is your work schedule?
When in the office, it's a regular work day. in the field, it's a long
day, from early till late.

14. What is a marine biologists salary?
It varies depending on where you are in the field and what you do.
Anything from not much (entry level) to $100,000 a year for the most
senior people.

15. Has technology had an impact on this career?
Yes. We use all kinds of technology in this business, from satellites
to sonar.

16. How do marine biologist affect the society?
They are involved in documentation of biodiversity and in learning
enough about animals and habitats to help protect them.

17. What advice would you give to students who want to become marine
Study, volunteer, get experience and read widely.

18. Would you change any part of your career?
No, not really.

19. What is the greatest memory of your career?
I have many, all of them involving being around whales.


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543, U.S.A.

tel. 508 495-2316 fax 508 495-2066 email:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Aug 19 2002 - 10:33:04 EDT