Studying physics and applied mathematics as a girl is not common. What made you select this course of study?
I like to find out how things work. I believe physics is the basic science to all scientific work. It helps to really understand things in biology and other areas. When an employer sees a degree in physics they know you can think logically and that you can figure things out. I like to run instruments, fix things, do the data collection…I like to understand how stuff works. Biology could not answer my questions. The advanced mechanics and dynamics class was for me, logical mathematical steps that resulted in explanation. Physics is the most basic science and helps to understand many processes.
Tell us about your work history with a degree in math/physics.
I started at Oakridge National Laboratory, Tennessee. I did not like it- too much paperwork. Next, was Scripps Institute for Oceanography. I worked on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV). Currently, I am employed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts. The scientist I work for has a lot of home grown projects. He builds things. I like this. It makes you think and keeps my creativity alive.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like surfing, soccer, studying Spanish, making my own clothes, reading, traveling and scuba diving. At the moment I am learning Spanish.
Why are you not a scientist or studying for your Ph.D.?
I don’t like to be a scientist. I am more an engineer. Scientists have to narrow down the subject. They need to focus on a small field. I don’t like to be limited to a small area. I think of studying electrical engineering later. My favorite class was electricity and magnetism in college. I like to keep my options open.
How do you learn? Do you depend on a good teacher?
Yes, I had a wonderful professor, but most importantly I learned how to study by myself. The actual class was review time for me. I had to read before class. I depend on a good text book. That is what half of the school is - teaching yourself how to learn. Learning your strengths and weaknesses and capitalizing on them.
Do you like your current job and what do you do?
My boss is hard to work for but gives me lots of opportunities like instrument development. I am also a certified scientific diver. I worked at the underwater observatory out of Martha’s Vineyard and maintained and built equipment. I have been to Panama three times diving to install an underwater observatory and a fiber optic cable. Now, I am going to Antarctica.
Do you have any plans for your future?
You know, I am a very non-committed person. I move every three months. Everything I own fits into my car. My storage is my car in the parking lot, a mobile lifestyle. After this cruise I will go to Guatemala with an exchange program for 10 months to teach English in a middle school and to learn Spanish. Need to tell my mom about it …