Subject: Marine biologist interview

Jennifer D. Philips (jphilips@soest.hawaii.edu)
Thu, 29 Oct 1998 10:41:14 -1000



>=A0=A0=A0 Dear Jenifer,
>=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 My name= is Michelle Del Rio. I am a 7th grader in San
>jose, California. In english class we have to do a project about what career
>interests you. I picked a marine biologist. Prior to the project we have to
>have an interview. If you could please respond to these following questions:
>1) How many years of college does it take to become a marine biologist?
>2) How much math does it take to become a knowledgeable marine biologist?
>3) Why did you choose to become a marine biologist?
>4) If you could change any thing about your job what would it be?
>5) What are the pros and cons about being a marine biologist?
>6) What are your daily routines for being a marine biologist.
>7) What do you=A0 think the world would be like if there were no marine
>biologsts.
>=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0= =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0= =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Thanks a lot!
>=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0= =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0= =A0=A0=A0=A0 Michelle=A0=A0 Del=A0 Rio

Michelle -

I'll answer your questions:
>1) How many years of college does it take to become a marine biologist?
A marine biologist must get years of graduate education in order to function in the academic and research field.  First, the 4-year college bachelor's degree must be completed, then the PhD degree has to be completed.  The PhD can take anywhere from 3 to 6 years, depending on the projects and work needing to be done.  This varies for each person.  The PhD degree gives the person the title of "Doctor of Philosophy" in their field of interest, in this case Marine Biology, and means that the person is trained to conduct research and teach students on their own.  BUT, the point at which the person become a marine biologist, or any scientist, is really much earlier, during their graduate studies.  Graduate students in science conduct research of their own, and many teach students, but they are merely still under the advisement of their research advisors.  I, for example, am still working on my PhD, but I am very much a scientist. 

>2) How much math does it take to become a knowledgeable marine biologist?
This varies for the specialization the marine biologist has.  Most undergraduate programs in biology or marine biology require math through the Calculus level, which could mean only a couple semesters of math if the person has done a lot of math in high school.  In grad school, some statistics is required.  Marine Biologists who need to use math more, someone like me, for example, who studies acoustics, need to take more math.

>3) Why did you choose to become a marine biologist?
First, the question is "Am I a marine biologist"?  I study dolphins, but I did not study marine biology in school.  I studied biology, took special classes in marine biology, and now I am in a Psychology graduate program.  I was interested in dolphins and whales when I was in high school, and that originally directed me to study them as a career.  But what I realized later is that the study of any animal or system of life is a study of many fields of research - biology, genetics, math, physics, psychology, ecology, oceanography, etc.  So, yes I did decide to become a marine biologist when I was in high school, and now I am that and - more generally - a scientist as well.

>4) If you could change any thing about your job what would it be?
That's a hard question!  I could be petty and say I would make more money - but that's not really true!  I like what I do despite the poverty of graduate school!  I could say I would work at my computer less and be outside more, but I do like working on my data, looking at the echolocation clicks our dolphins make.  I guess I would have to answer this:  I would change people's perceptions of the study of marine mammals, and indeed all animal species studied in the world.  Researchers need funding to do their work and unless there is unqualified understanding by everyone that we do need to learn about other species' lives in order to understand our world better, its makes it very hard to get research done.  

>5) What are the pros and cons about being a marine biologist?
Marine biologists make less money, that's a con.  But we get to study and learn more about some of the most beautiful animals on earth, that's a pro.  We get to work outside, that's a pro, but we get sunburns, that's a con.  It is hard work, but it can be very rewarding at times. 

>6) What are your daily routines for being a marine biologist.
My daily routine changes during the year, but right now I get up and go to the lab, where I will work with my advisors on instruments or data, then I will work with the dolphins during the day to run experiment sessions and collect data.  I also organize a metting group for marine mammal students in Hawaii, and, of course, I have my life outside of my professional career. 

>7) What do you=A0 think the world would be like if there were no marine
>biologsts.
We would know very little about the incredibly diverse life that exists under the surface of the ocean.  The ocean covers 75% of the surface of the earth, and in that ocean thrives an ecosystem very different than the one we live in on land.  Indeed, as we humans begin to turn to the ocean more for means to our future survival on Earth, we need to know how our actions might impact that ecosystem.  Without marine biologists, we would certainly not be learning these things. 


I hope I've answered all your questions.  Good luck on your project, and write again anytime!

Aloha -
Jen Philips

__________________________________

Jennifer D. Philips     
jphilips@soest.hawaii.edu

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106      = ;  
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831
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