Careers in Science
How did you choose your present profession?
I chose marine science from an early age (from about 5 years on) fascination by the sea and sea-life - first visually from rock pools and waves.
What were your biggest motivators?
Simply to understand how creatures in the sea lived and functioned - purely interest-driven. In practical nitty-gritty terms, a scholarship to study in this field allowed this to become reality.
Who were/are your greatest mentors/heroes?
A very dedicated, enthusiastic team of marine biologists where I studied in the Zoology Department of the University of Cape Town, plus the numerous authors of books or other presentations on marine life. No special hero, although George Branch and Andy Bakun feature as inspiring leaders in their fields
Was there a pivotal event in your life that helped you decide on your career path?
As above, the scholarship to allow for study in this field.
What has been the biggest surprise in your life as a scientist?
I am definitely not a "great" scientist, so being able to work with some of the "greats" has been a thrill.
What would you recommend for students wanting to pursue a similar career?
Make sure that what you choose to follow in your career really "grabs" you. Never do it just for a job. There is no end to the wonderful, amazing things you will come across in the marine environment.
What do you like best about your profession?
The fieldwork - being out along the shore, on or in the sea.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement?
Helping to raise kids who are acutely aware of and involved in looking after the natural environment.
Are you optimistic for the future of the planet and if so why?
Not optimistic, but neither pessimistic because the planet is resilient and people are becoming increasingly and rapidly aware of the damage done and being done, as changes occur. Man is smart enough to take action - will we be strong enough to?
What are your greatest fears for the future of the planet?
Pollution – human-made pollution is massive. As such, massive steps are needed to control the ever increasing and self-damaging rubbish we produce.
What’s the one message you would like the next generation of scientists to hear?
There are immense natural wonders waiting for you to find - find them! Enjoy them, understand them and influence the way people live through your knowledge.
What web sites, books, articles and other lay person references would you recommend for viewers interested in your work featured in Strange Days on Planet Earth?
There are many popular articles on underwater vents and seeps - e.g. by Lisa Levin - which are of general interest and would enlighten the average person about life in an underwater environment of hydrogen sulphide, methane and little or no oxygen.
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