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NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps

Women Change the Face of the NOAA Corps, NOAA 200th Anniversary Web Site


MEET: Captain Michele Finn

Commissioned Officer, Chief of Staff, National Ocean Service

As a 21-year Commissioned NOAA Corps officer, my primary focus has been on helping NOAA perform well operationally. Over time, I’ve been involved in ship, small boat, and diving operations; remote field operations; flight operations; and office management all across NOAA (not just NOS).

Captain Finn in a G-IV

Captain Michele Finn began her career as a pilot in a NOAA Twin Otter, then advanced through the ranks to become the first female Gulfstream-IV hurricane surveillance jet pilot. Here she sits in the cockpit of the G-IV.

What do you like most about working at NOS?

I’ve enjoyed the diversity of my NOAA Corps career. NOAA has afforded me the opportunity to be in a continual learning environment…there is never a dull or predictable moment.

What is the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job has been helping NOAA accomplish mission objectives that are always competing for limited resources: funding, platform availability, personnel time.

What is your educational background?

B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University at Galveston; M.S. in Zoology from University of Hawaii; and a Master’s Certificate in Aviation and Aerospace Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

Growing up, my parents only had one to two weeks of vacation time TOTAL each year. But, both loved spending time exploring coastal areas and the open ocean. So, as a family, we planned and executed a yearly excursion to the shore.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

The NOAA Corps recruited actively at Texas A&M University at Galveston, showing a pretty exciting video of operational support activities. By that time, I had realized that I liked operating the platforms and equipment during research projects. 

What advice do you have for young people wanting a career in the "ocean realm"?

No matter what career you want in life, pay attention to learning all you can about math, science, and computer technology.

What is the most interesting/important thing you've learned while working at NOAA?

The success of a team is more important that an individual’s own success…have not found an exception to this concept.