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Deborah Bronk

Hello TOS members! This month I want to focus on the too often unsung heroes of ocean science.

Much of the ocean research done in the world is executed by scientists without PhDs—how do we do a better job providing them a voice and recognizing their contributions?

In my experience, the decision of whether to pursue running one’s own lab versus working within someone else’s lab hinges on many things like desired work life balance, financial resources, opportunity, risk tolerance, desire to be more hands on, etc. It does not hinge on intellectual ability or talent. I do not mean to diminish the importance of the leadership provided by scientists that pursue PhDs. They are charged with generating the ideas and pursuing the funding to advance our field. But, much of that work won’t happen without the technical skills, experience, and passion of the science staff they work with, most of which do not have PhDs.

These same individuals also help to train the next generation of scientists in graduate schools around the world. In my own case, I had a wonderful PhD advisor, Pat Glibert, but day in and day out it was the woman who ran Pat’s lab (and TOS’s long-serving treasurer), Sue Banahan, who trained me in analyses, taught me how to plan and pack for cruises, and helped me figure out why my samples kept literally blowing up! Sue’s mentorship was critical to my development as a scientist.

Where are the voices representing the needs of this segment of our community? If you survey the boards of societies in aquatic science and related fields, you will find student representatives, but it is rare to see non-PhD scientists serving.

Where are these most critical members of our research community celebrated? If you survey the recipients of the many awards given by organizations in our field, it is rare for them to go to lab managers, research technicians, or research associates.

I believe ocean science will be stronger and more productive as a discipline if we seek the counsel and applaud the work of all members of our community. This is a topic I will raise with the TOS Council. I’d like to build on the work started with the establishment of the TOS Ocean Observing Team Award to more fully recognize the contributions of all scientists. I welcome your thoughts as we start that conversation.

I’m here to serve, so please reach out to me at [email protected] if you have ideas of how TOS can better serve its members.



The Ocean Sciences Meeting is the flagship conference for those in the ocean sciences and the larger oceans community. We invite proposals for sessions and town halls that span a broad array of aquatic science topics. We particularly encourage ideas with strong interdisciplinary themes that address new and emerging areas of research. Submission deadline is May 24, 2023.



Preparing a manuscript for Oceanography? Please submit it through our new manuscript submission portal. Author guidelines are available at that link and on the Oceanography website.



Janelle Layton

My path as an undergraduate was not always clear; I began my undergraduate degree as a biology major on a pre-medical track, but after taking ecology-based coursework and volunteering as a teaching and research assistant, I knew that switching my major to marine and environmental science was the right path for me. It put me on the right career trajectory because my passions better aligned with the research opportunities and academic experiences in the Department of Marine and Environmental Science at Hampton University. These experiences throughout the remainder of my time as an undergraduate drove my desire to pursue a marine fisheries and conservation career. I am now a master’s (and soon to be PhD) student in in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences at Oregon State University. My research focuses on the impacts of increasing temperatures on the early life history stages of critically endangered Nassau grouper.

As a young Black female, just getting to this point in my academic career has been nothing but challenging. I most likely would not have made it this far without the active research, academic, and life mentors who have helped guide my way. I hope that once I finish graduate school, I can continue in academia to create a safe space for minority students with similar interests. I would also like to help students find their passion and to diversify the mindset of marine scientists as a whole.

A Program of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Several regional and national nodes have been created as part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) to foster collaboration among Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOP) across geographies, disciplines, and sectors. The mission of the U.S. ECOP Node is to increase ECOP engagement in the UN Decade, listen to and identify their needs, and empower them to become future leaders.

Why engage in the U.S. ECOP Node? Connect with other ECOPs to enhance your disciplinary and interdisciplinary career path. Take part in social events with ECOPs. Learn about relevant conferences, events, and job opportunities. Gain understanding of emerging topics in marine science, policy, and management.


Read All Career Profiles

Angelica Rodriguez, Research Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Kaitlyn Lowder, Program Manager, The Ocean Foundation



The Biological Oceanography Program, within the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) in the Directorate of Geosciences (GEO) at the U.S. National Science Foundation, announces a nationwide search for a Program Director (Permanent or Rotator) with experience and expertise in any area of biological oceanography or marine ecology. The program encourages applicants from groups traditionally underrepresented in science. Apply by April 20, 2023.


The Ocean Policy Committee, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, released today the first-ever United States Ocean Climate Action Plan, a groundbreaking roadmap to harness the power of the ocean to advance transformational steps to protect ocean health and address the climate crisis.

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