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National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment Update

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MEET: Suzanne Bricker

Physical Scientist and Manager of NOAA's National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

As a physical scientist and Manager of NOAA’s National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment, my responsibilities include conducting research about nutrient-related water quality problems in coastal areas, and figuring out what to do about these problems.

Suzanne Bricker

What do you like most about working at NOS?

The extremely talented, smart, and innovative scientists and staff who work with me and all around me.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Waiting to hear whether our research proposals are going to be funded. Getting funding has been difficult.

What is your educational background?

I have a bachelor’s in biology from Northwestern University, and a PhD from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. 

What inspired your interest in the ocean and coasts?

When I was growing up, my family lived in Bermuda every summer, where my father taught at the Bermuda Biological Station. To keep my sisters and I busy, my parents made us participate in some of the graduate-level classes! I thought it was really cool to do the experiments and go out onto the reefs to collect data. I was also interested in being a physical therapist and volunteered at a hospital during college. My experience at the hospital made me think about how wonderful that summer work had been, so I ended up applying to graduate school for oceanography.

How did you end up working at NOAA?

When I completed my graduate work, my dad heard from a colleague that a position was available in NOAA’s Status and Trends Program. I interviewed for the position a couple of days before I defended my dissertation, and within a month of receiving my PhD, I was a NOAA employee. I really love my work, and over the years, I have changed groups to continue research that I find interesting.

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

Network. Talk to people about what you want to do and be proactive about finding out the details. When I was in college I worked in a lab during the summer and talked to the graduate students about their work. I learned who was involved in the research that I wanted to do, and then I contacted them. My parents also talked about my work. I’m a good example of “It’s who you know that can make a difference,” since my summer work led to my being accepted in my major professor’s lab. Everyone can teach you something, and, if you want to do something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.