Subject: Career questions
Wed, 19 Mar 1997 12:08:11 GMT+1200

My name is Jamie Myers and I live in Slidell, La.  I am in the tenth 
grade and am working on a research paper for my Honors Biology class.  I 
would like to ask you a few questions about your career in the field of 

1.  What led you to the choice of this profession?

  Funny enough it doesn't have much to do with whales.  As an undergraduate I was interested 
in conservation issues. My special interest was the population genetics of endangered 
species.  I started working on birds first but then a project on white whales came up which 
encompassed what I was interested in: a small, isolated population which had been depleted 
and was struggling to recover.  I couldn't resist and made the jump to whales.  I haven't 
looked back since then.

2.  What are the pros and cons of you job?

 Pros: The intellectual challenge, the discovery of new information, the flexibility of the 
hours, the traveling, basically work is play.

Cons: The lack of job security, the generally low pay, the mass of paperwork and the 
continued struggle for funding.

3.  Did anyone encourage you to take on the study of whales?  If so, who?

	No one encouraged me to study whales but there was one lecturer during my undergraduate 
years who strongly encouraged me to pursue a career in research. His name is Jean-Francois 
Robitaille, he is now a lecturer at Laurien University in Northern Ontario and works on 

4.  What university did you attend and how many years were you there?

 I attended the Univeristy of Montreal for one year and obtained a certificat in 
Anthropology.  Then I returned to the same University to do a Bachelor's of Science degree 
for 3 years.  I then went to McMaster University in Ontario to do a Master's degree for two 
years.  I am now working and studying  at the University of Auckland.  I have been here for 
about 2 years. 

5.  How do you feel about the work you are doing now?  Do you enjoy     
    everything you do?
  I love the work I do although I woulkd like to spend more time in the field. The bit I 
don't enjoy is having to write the never ending grant proposal.  It takes up a lot of time, 
but without it we couldn't do our research.  Apart from that, it's pretty good.

6.  How often do you go out into the ocean to do field work?

  It varies a great deal from year to year.  A few years back I spent about half the year 
out in the field.  Last year I was out in the field on two different projects for about 3 

7.  Where are some places you have traveled to study whales?

I have been lucky enough to spend a fair amount of time in the Arctic.  I have worked in  
Alaska, in the Northwest and Yukon Territories.  I have also been to the Subantarctic 
Islands south of New Zealand and Tonga.

8.  How do you spend a typical day?

  These days most of my days are spent in the lab, doing molecular genetic analysis. 
Typically I am in the office by 8 am, take care of paperwork, email collegues, and attend to 
the most pressing things like answering Whalenet!  Then I spend most of the day working in 
the lab.  Early afternoon we often have meetings, or seminars.  Then late afternoon I do a 
bit of data analysis, working on the computer.  My evenings are usually spent reading 
scientific articles, writing proposals or reports.  Of course when I am in the field it is 
completely different as most of the time is spent on the water collecting data.

9.  Do you have any advice for a young person that is interested in this 

You need determination and perseverance because many people want to be in this field. I 
recommend you start as early as possible getting involved in projects as a volunteer.  I 
think you should gear your studies towards a fairly broad background in Biology but try to 
become really good at something like statistics or genetics.  

Thank you for your time,
                                                 Jamie Myers

You're welcome



Your answers will be greatly appreciated.

Nathalie Patenaude