A conversation on navigating a contemporary career in ocean science

By Kevin Travis

The 2021 CalCOFI Conference brought together a diverse group of ocean science practitioners. This year’s theme was centered on the social, ecological, and environmental dimensions of marine management, which consisted of talks, interactive roundtables, and panel discussions. The two-day virtual event provided an inclusive platform for ocean professionals from various career stages, sectors, and disciplines to connect as a larger community.

As a California Sea Grant State Fellow, hosted by Ocean Science Trust, I was able to support the conference by working with Extension Specialist Erin Satterthwaite at CalCOFI. Expanding upon this cross-cutting conference theme, I helped plan and moderate a career panel titled “Navigating a Contemporary Career Path in Ocean Sustainability”. The panel consisted of a diverse group of ocean professionals, including:

Alfredo Giron, André Hoffmann Fellow at the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions & World Economic Forum
Sonia Batten, Executive Secretary of the North Pacific Marine Sciences Organization
Anna Zivian, Senior Research Fellow at the Ocean Conservancy
Shauna Oh, Director of California Sea Grant

This panel was inspired by a 2021 article titled “Reimagining STEM Workforce Development as a Braided River”. In recent years, careers in STEM have become integrative in how we gather data, cultivate knowledge and apply science. This collaboration has led to new and reimagined career pathways. Much like a braided river, these pathways can be complex, with many entry and exit points, and requires a holistic support system. With this in mind, the panelists reflected on their own career journey and participated in a Q&A to explore the challenges and opportunities of navigating a modern career in ocean science. The conversation explored many topics, such as seeking diverse mentorship, developing communication skills across boundaries, and bringing in all voices to build a more equitable and inclusive workforce.

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