This week, I saw someone reach out on twitter in regards to a school aged girl who wanted some advice as to how to be a marine biologist when she grew up. I got a copy of her letter and wrote a response. I thought I’d use this as a first, optimistic post for my new blog. I’ve not included more details on how I heard of her, or her name just for safety’s sake. If you know any young people interested in a career in science, I hope you can pass on a similar message 🙂

Dear [Young Science Enthusiast],

It’s great to hear that you’d like to be a marine biologist, the world needs more enthusiastic scientists like you!

I’ll tell you a bit about me, you could say I’m a bit of a marine biologist, but my degree was in genetics. Most of my scientific work has been with marine animals, so it just shows you that the path to marine biology might not always be as direct as you think it is. A lot of my work has been in developmental genetics and evolution, so I basically just find out really cool things about the biology of a few marine animals from when they are a fertilised egg till adulthood, which if you ask me, is pretty awesome! But, if genetics or developmental biology aren’t your thing, there are so many other ways to be a marine biologist!

In answer to your question though, a degree in biology or a similar field (ecology, zoology, or botany, to name a few) would really help. After this, you could work in an aquarium, a zoo, or continue with scientific research. Not all of these mean that you have to work away from home, but you probably will travel for work at some point in your career, whether that’s to a conference to share ideas with other scientists, or field work to get more information about the animals you study. But, I don’t think you need to be scared of doing some work away from home, its usually great fun and you get to experience so many different things and meet some very cool people that share the same interests as you!

Really, there are sooooooooooo many options if you want to be a marine biologist (even underwater photography or filming to show others how cool marine biology is), and I don’t know if I’ve helped you choose, but my main advice is to follow what you are passionate about, and you will find something that you enjoy. I really hope you stay curious about marine biology, and don’t let anyone discourage you from following your dreams!

I hope I helped,

Yours sincerely,

Julie Blommaert

I hope more of you are inspired by a young girls’ interest in science and I encourage all of you reading this to encourage as many young, enthusiastic minds to pursue their interests no matter what!


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