Perhaps the single most important influence on my career choice was the PBS program Voyage of the Mimi. In this program, a young boy played by Ben Affleck has the opportunity to study the ocean. To me, most compelling was the story of the humpback whales. My fascination with these whales, and whales and dolphins in general, led to my decision to go to college and study biology.
To some degree, I think I was always interested in these marine mammals. In my first grade class, we were asked what profession interested us. To this question, I announced, “When I grow up, I am going to be a dolphin.” I never did become a dolphin, a
Rebecca holding fish
nd in college I realized that studying wild dolphins and whales was not for me. I got horribly seasick during my field lab class! From that point on, I learned to try out programs and professional options for at least a day before committing long term! Shadowing a professional is a great way to learn about what you would like to do in school and as a profession.
After realizing that I would not study dolphins and whales, I became interested in psychology and animal behavior. I wanted to understand how it is that animals learned. I started working with fish during an honors project. While I was not exactly clear where I wanted to work, I decided to go to graduate
In planning for graduate school, I made sure to ask for advice. I mostly consulted faculty members at my college. The tips provided were invaluable and I recommend this to anyone considering graduate school. The most important factor in choosing a school was my comfort. Did I feel comfortable talking with my potential supervisor? What were the impressions of other graduate students in that program? What difficulties did they encounter? There is much to learn when pursuing an advanced degree, it is so critical that you feel comfortable to share what you are thinking and why! My graduate school experience was a wonderful one and I attribute this to my extremely supportive supervisor and the other graduate students.
Working at Rutgers has been very exciting. Academia constantly brings interesting experiences, but balancing time is difficult. The days can be quite long and it is difficult to let things rest until the next day. That being said, I am most proud of the discoveries that I have made or thoughts that I have thought that no one else has. I also love the opportunity to work with students of all ages. It is so rewarding to share my love of discovery and science with others!