Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography  Interviews


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dotWhat to Expect

How would you like to get a glimpse of the wondrous world that lies beneath the water? Marine biology students explore every aspect of plant and animal life under the sea, including algae, coral reefs and whales.

Raquel Mendoza went to Bowling Green State University. She studied for an undergraduate degree in biology with a marine and aquatic biology specialization. Not all schools offer a marine biology major at the bachelor's degree level.

During her program, Mendoza volunteered in a marine lab at school. Mendoza says that this is a bonus, as a lab is not a feature of every marine science program. She says that taking care of the tanks helped her learn about different organisms.

"The marine lab here helps a great deal," she says. "I've made new friends. It allows me to network and our lab director is a great friend."

Kevin Kroeger started off with a bachelor of arts from the University of Tennessee. During his senior year, he did some work for an oceanography professor. "And just after graduation, I went on a [research] cruise with her to the Bering Sea," he remembers. "This was a fantastic start in marine science!"

During his master's program in marine science, Kroeger worked for a professor for 20 hours each week, for a salary of $16,000 a year.

He also did fieldwork: one-day research cruises on 16- to 50-foot boats to collect benthic organisms -- creatures like clams and worms.

Kroeger also did lab work. "[Samples] were preserved and analyzed in the laboratory."

He also had to do data analysis and writing. "This involves the use of various types of computer software to take raw data and produce a paper for publication in a science journal."

How to Prepare

First and foremost, take science classes, suggests Mendoza.

"If you live near the ocean, find someone who is a marine biologist and shadow them for a day, or week, or month. That way, you'll know what it's like before you enter a four-year program," she says.