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Marine Biology Interview Questions By Dr. Bernd Würsig Texas A&M University at Galveston 1. What made you decide to choose this career? I'd wanted to be a marine biologist since I was about 9, after reading early books by Jacques Cousteau and Hans Hass (in German). At the time, this life seemed so glamorous. I then learned that it truly is, but is also much hard work and (as in all good things) some boredom. 2. What kind of training did you need for this job? I got a solid background in Zoology at the Ohio State University, skipped the master's (not to be generally advised), and got my Ph.D. in a n interdisciplinary marine sciences/evolutionary biology curriculum at State University of New York at Stony Brook. I did a three-year post-doc at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Much of my work involved behavioral ecology studies of smaller dolphins in those early days. I now study and teach many aspects of marine mammal biology. One does not need to "go all the way" academically in order to have a fulfilling career in marine biology. With a bachelor's degree you might work in someone's research laboratory; with a master's degree, you might do the same, and help design projects, etc. 3. How long have you been employed in this field? I've worked in marine biology since 1971. It took me 7 years to get a Ph.D. degree, while doing research on two species of dolphins in Patagonia, Argentina. From 1971-1978, I earned a small stipend as a graduate student assistant researcher and assistant teacher. From 1978 to 1981, I earned a slightly better salary as a postdoctoral researcher with a fellowship from the National Institute of Health. From 1981 on, I've been working "as an academic" at universities. 4. Is finding work in this field difficult? Yes, but "the good ones" get jobs, in government (for example, National Marine Fisheries Service), conservation agencies (for example, the Sierra Club), environmental consultant firms, industry (who often need biologists on staff), or universities. 5. What do you enjoy most about your career? Bright inquisitive promising students who care about nature and life, probably like you. 6. What is the most difficult part of this job? Finding the money to support research for graduate students. 7.Would you recommend this career to a young person? Why? Definitely. For those so inclined, you get to spend time with marine life, whether in the lab or in nature. You get to ask questions of nature, and this senses of discovery, of newness in knowledge, cannot be traded for any other money-making job on Earth. This is my personal bias, of course :-). 8. What is the average pay for someone majoring in Marine Biology? Hmmm, I do not know. Do a search on this. Someone with a bachelor's working as an assistant in a laboratory, will probably make no more than $20,000 to $30,000 per year. A researcher for a consulting company, often with a master's, might make $60,000 per year. Starting salary as an assistant professor is about $45,000 per year. A full professor at many US universities may make around $100,000 per year. 9. What qualities are needed for this position? Inquisitiveness. the will to learn. Intelligence. An open mind...

10. What are your major job responsibilities? I teach undergraduate students, one to tow courses per semester. I advise graduate students in their own research, and help them find funding, do the research, analyze results, and write up their findings. I do my own research as well, often with the help of assistants and students. 11. Do many people with a Marine Biology Degree actually work with the mammals? If not, what field do most of them end up in? The study of marine mammals is just a very small part of the huge field of marine biology. In marine biology, you can study invertebrates, coral reefs, deep ocean fauna and flora, physiological processes, fishes, sea turtles, marine birds, ecological questions, etc. etc. Is is a vibrant and diverse field of study, and those who catch an interest in it, usually prefer one particular avenue of interest more than another. Do not, please, equate "marine biology" with "marine mammology"; the latter is a small (but quite popular) subset of the former.


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