It is a great job to be a NOAA public servant. I get to work with a broad variety of oceanographic, meteorological, and geodetic data, not just from the United States, but from around the globe. I get to look at data from real-time tsunami and storm surge events to long-term, century-scale sea level trends. I am able to help our agency provide a tangible set of data and data products that provide very meaningful information for managing our coasts, for public safety, for the economy, and for the benefit of ecosystems. I also enjoy teaching and mentoring.
The worst parts of my job are the daily automobile commute and those all-too-frequent automatic workstation reboots right when I am doing some important work.
I have a B.S. in meteorology and oceanography and a master’s in physical oceanography from the New York School of Engineering and Science. I also obtained one-year specialty training in tidal theory and tidal analysis at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California at San Diego.
The “aha moment” was an earth science course in my junior year of high school. I originally wanted to be a meteorologist, but turned my attention to the oceans while in college.
Get a well-rounded education as an undergraduate, including courses in marine science, geology, and physical and chemical oceanography. Statistical and time-series analysis comes in handy in the real world of oceanography. Learn to use GIS. Don't be afraid to "jump into" the data to work through and understand problems. Never stop learning. Always look to apply your knowledge to understanding and solving real-world problems.
Everything in nature is connected and the Earth is one large system under increasing stress. What happens with climate, the weather, and the oceans in one part of the globe is teleconnected to other regions, and nothing happens in isolation.
One of my most interesting experiences happened early on in my NOAA career, when I was part of a group performing tidal studies in marshes along the West Coast. I got to travel to almost every marsh system from Southern California to Oregon. That set the stage for realizing how important tidal data are to understanding how ecosystems function.