From NOAA Press Release Materials
Each March we celebrate a few of our science center’s women scientists by highlighting them and their work.
This year we asked five of our women scientists to share what got them interested in science, why they decided to become scientists, and what advice they have for the next generation of women scientists.
First up we have Valerie Ouellet, a diadromous species scientist in our Protected Species Branch, and Michelle Passerotti, a fish biologist with our Apex Predators Program. Tune in each Monday to read the latest Women’s History Month profile as well as the rest of these interviews and more profiles at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/new-england-mid-atlantic/northeast-womens-history-month-series?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
“My journey to science was not the shortest, but it was the luckiest. I grew up in Taiwan, a small but beautiful island country about 100 miles off the coast of southeastern China. It’s surrounded by spectacular oceans and full of rugged mountains. My dad is an amateur ecologist and my mom is an environmental advocate. It seemed all the cards were lined up for a career in the natural sciences, but nothing particularly inspired me until later.
“During college I went scuba diving, which was part of a swimming coach training. It was love at first sight, my first glimpse into the mystery of the ocean.
“There are many fields of science that you can pursue as a career. Find one you love and go for it. If you’re unsure which field is for you, don’t be afraid to try different ones. Take classes in college. Be a volunteer. Do an internship. Or just experience different things in life. At the moment, it might seem like a waste of time or completely unrelated to science as a career. But these experiences might come into play one day, sometimes when you the least expect it. I never thought that my business degree would make me stand out from the crowd and help me get into a Ph.D. program in a completely unrelated field, but it did. And who knows, if I didn’t take that dive trip, I might not have found a career in fisheries science.”
Learn more at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/womens-history-month-talking-jui-han-chang
Here is some of what Ms. Ouellet told NOAA (edited).
“I grew up on a farm in a small rural town called Padoue in Quebec, Canada. As far as I remember, I have always been interested in science. The farm provided plenty of opportunities to explore and learn.
“I became a scientist because I wanted to understand how ecosystems are changing and how this is affecting aquatic species. I strive to find solutions to reduce our negative impacts on ecosystems and play an active role in conserving aquatic species and water resources. I want people to understand how vital these resources are!
“Although there are real challenges for women in sciences, don’t let that stop you. Remember there is always something to learn from a bad experience. Be bold! Go after opportunities that interest you. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work out. You still learned something and you can always try again!”
For more visit https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/womens-history-month-talking-valerie-ouellet
Here is some of what Ms. Passerotti told NOAA (edited).
“I grew up in Perry, Florida…My childhood was spent snorkeling the seagrass beds of Apalachee Bay picking up bay scallops, fishing for spotted seatrout and red drum with my dad, and generally being barefoot and outside. The vast array of critters I encountered during my dips into the Gulf of Mexico piqued my interest in marine biology. By age eight I knew I wanted to be a scientist.
“I became a scientist because science, especially biology, is captivating. It’s alive. It moves and breathes. We can know every foundational principle, then life adapts and we have a thousand new things to learn. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.
“I encourage all aspiring scientists to push aside the idea that career paths are a zero-sum game. It’s not an all-or-nothing or one-size-fits-all… Especially for women, there tends to be this idea that having a family predisposes you to a certain schedule or secondary tier of choices when it comes to a career….Never discount the value of your personal skill set and experiences. I didn’t start my doctoral degree until I was 36 years old with two elementary school-aged children and an active duty military husband who traveled and moved a lot.”
For more visit https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/womens-history-month-talking-michelle-passerotti
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