How did you decide to become a professor?
I don’t recall making a discrete decision to become a professor. I loved my undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and benefited enormously from the mentorship of several faculty members there, particularly Paul Silva, John West, and GF Papenfuss. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to move on to graduate school, where I had wonderful experiences at the University of British Columbia and at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. My graduate advisors—Rob DeWreede and Paul Dayton—were (and still are) inspirational, and I owe my academic career to them.
What do you like most about your work?
Three things are of greatest value to me. One is the opportunity—indeed, the responsibility—to ask and answer questions of interest to science and society. Second, working with students to help them achieve their academic and professional goals is key. And third, my colleagues and students are broad, innovative thinkers and I love learning from them.
If you could have any amount of funding to conduct research, what would you do and why?
Oh, gosh, this is purely hypothetical because funding is never unlimited. But if I were awarded buckets of money I would invest in climate change research as it pertains to ocean ecosystems and would support students interested in this line of inquiry. Climate change—including ocean change—affects, or will affect, every aspect of our lives, and it deserves our sustained attention.
What advice would you give to students who are considering studying at SMEA?
Cultivate intellectual curiosity, read widely, and don’t be afraid to change your mind. Enjoy the experience—graduate school is a special time of life.
What is your favorite form of marine life and why?
Seaweeds, for sure. They are so ancient, and so wonderfully weird, and so important to life on earth. Who wouldn’t love them?