Science & Space

Marine Biologist

Dr. Terrie works for University of California at Santa Cruz. Terrie has a COOL JOB as a Marine Biologist.

How She Got That Gig:

“I started out interested in animals and was curious on how they functioned in their different environments.”

Terrie went to Rutgers University and took veterinary and biology classes to obtain a broad background in the field. She also took psychology classes to see if animal behavior was also an interest and realized she was more interested in the mechanics of animals. “I had been a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons to kids so to be able to study animals in relation to water was really cool! I learned how their heart, lungs, muscles etc. all worked together and interacted with the environment.” She graduated with an undergraduate degree in Pre-Med. and then stayed at Rutgers and received my doctorate in Physiology from the school of medicine.  Her graduate work attracted the interests of a doctor at Scripts Institute of Oceanography were she started her first job. The institute is located next to the San Diego Zoo which allowed them to do work with their doctors and animal and her career took off! After Scripts Terrie lived in Alaska for three years during the Exxon Valdez oil spill and studied the effects on the sea mammals. She also worked in Hawaii with dolphins, in Washington DC conducting research and is now a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

A Day In The Life:

“I spend about half of the year teaching graduate and undergraduate students and the other half conducting research around the world. Graduate students will conduct the majority of their work in the field and the undergraduates do more in the classroom or lab. For the last three years I have traveled to the Antarctic in the fall with about 10 other people to study seals. We wanted to see how they were able to find food when the water is completely frozen and it’s dark outside. We camped out on the ice, strapped small cameras to the seals and observed their feeding and living habits in the frozen tundra! Because of my work on Bottlenose Dolphins in Hawaii, IMAX moviemakers have come to my lab in California to film additional research we are conducting.”

High Five:

“This is the most adventurous job anyone could think of! Because of my education and experience, I can pretty much decide what it is I want to study, write the grant to obtain the funding and go do it!”

Down Low:

“The price tag is that it is very hard to maintain a personal relationship in this kind of work because of the chucks of time you are away. You almost need to be with someone who does the same thing or has an unconventional job.”

Wish List:

“There is just a limited amount of funding to go around so we have to pick and choose what we study.”


“It’s a lifestyle. Let’s say I go on vacation where there is water, well, you know what I’m doing, observing!”

Words From The Wise:

“Do something that really makes you excited, then it’s not like work, it’s just how you live.”

1 or 2 Words To Describe Your Job:


For More Information:

Contact the Society for Marine Mammalogy

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