Stephanie Walker graduated with a BS in Marine Biology in 2008 and is currently working on advancing her education to include astrobiology. She became fascinated with the sea at a young age and has always enjoyed helping animals in need. Stephanie does rescue, rehabilitation, research and release on several marine mammal species, as well as turtle species. Being partnered up with NOAA and marine mammal research and rescue organizations has been one of the highlights of her life so far. Stephanie also has a deep passion for exploration (on Earth and celestial bodies) as well as conservation.
Briefly describe your current work and your research.
I am currently doing research on why marine animals (particularly mammals, but not limited to) strand themselves. I have been doing this for around 14 years total along with a couple of other fields of science.
What do you love most about your job?
The thing I love most about what I do is being able to educate the public on how we can help protected/endangered marine life around the world flourish once again. I get to speak to people from all over the world not only through social media, but in my field work as well.
How difficult was it to get where you are today?
The thing that took the longest was, of course, the education. After 6 years of education and graduating with a BS in Marine Biology, I started applying for internships and it eventually led me to my training in the field that I’m at.
What was the biggest obstacle in your way before your career reached where it is today? How did you overcome it?
For me personally, my biggest obstacle was myself. I was always a perfectionist and when something didn’t go quite my way or I didn’t get the exact grade I wanted, I would beat myself up over it. I would get cynical and almost want to give up. What got me through it was a support system around me letting me know that i could achieve what I wanted to if I kept working for it. There will be tough times and sometimes you feel like giving up but you always have to push through at the end of the day and the reward is worth it.
What are you looking forward to the most in the future of marine science?
I think a few things excite me a lot when it comes to the future of marine sciences. One thing being new species being discovered. Another would be venturing out into worlds untouched by man and possibly discovering new life on other planets/moons. I.e. Mars and Europa. Marine science is everywhere.
How do you think we can get more women involved within marine science?
By doing this. Letting people know that the average everyday person going through their own struggles and obstacles CAN make it in this field (or any field). The more support that people conjure up around them, the more women we will see become successful in this field.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring female marine scientists?
Never, ever give up. Things will get difficult. It will be tough, but just know that there is support out there for you and you can make it and be successful in marine sciences.
In one sentence, why do you think a career in marine science is a great career option?
Our planet is a blue planet and there is so much work to be done and so many discoveries yet to be made by future scientists.
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I would like to give a massive thank you to Stephanie for participating in this interview. I cannot wait to share more of your stories and I hope that you find inspiration in learning of other journeys within marine science.
Are you a woman working within marine science? Would you like to share your story and inspire the next generation? Please get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved with the Leading Women in Marine Science Interview Series.
All photographs, question responses and biography used in this article belong to Stephanie Walker.