A career in marine science doesn’t always require a degree in marine biology—staff members at the Seattle Aquarium possess a wide variety of educational and employment backgrounds. For instance, Seattle Aquarium Community Partner Program Coordinator Jasmine Davis spends her days at the Aquarium helping to increase access for underserved audiences throughout the community via our Connections program. Away from the office, she’s embarked on a fascinating educational journey, some of which she shares with us below.
From Seattle to Baja: scientists connecting to place through marine science
Last year I was accepted into Miami University’s Project Dragonfly to pursue my master’s degree in teaching biological sciences. As a part of my graduate course I get to travel to biodiversity hotspots around the world—and this past summer I was able to travel to the Baja Peninsula to explore the geography of the area, including the Sea of Cortez, as part of a course focused on applying field methods as a foundation for ecological questions and conservation practice.
Through this course I learned about the fundamental tools needed that allow us to investigate and interact with the world around us. By understanding the process of how science is performed, I am better able to inform the public on environmental concerns.
Out of this trip I was able to come up with a comparative research question that I spent the rest of the semester collecting data on and analyzing through the tools I learned in the class. My research question focused on diversity and inclusion within marine science and analyzed how the Seattle Aquarium Connections program is helping to make a difference in reaching a more ethnically diverse audience. Being a scientist within marine conservation is not just about the amazing animals I was able to interact with—but also about the people. How we engage and interact with people, how each and every one of us has a connection to the ocean, and how culture and heritage are key components to this connection. Thinking about ethnic diversity within marine conservation is just one way that I choose as a scientist to think differently and challenge what marine science looks like.
During my trip not only did I have the opportunity to participate in science, I also got to experience it by stepping out of my comfort zone and authentically engaging with a sense of place. My experiences of this place connected me to the land and the water in a similar way that we at the Seattle Aquarium try to emulate for those who do not have the opportunities to go out in Puget Sound: To evoke the same awe and wonder that connects you to marine science and inspires you to want to take action to conserve this marine environment.