Can you believe it’s almost September? Wow, 2021 has really flown by. August was filled with some incredible memories in the High Arctic – it’s my first time here and I am absolutely blown away by the beauty of everything around me.
I loved answering all of your questions for this month. Please note I only answer questions that I haven't answered before or that I have new answers for so if you've asked something and I didn't answer it try searching for it on my blog with a few keywords and I promise you'll find it!
Are you a nerd of geek at heart?
Very much a nerd, I think.
Why are you so beautiful?
Half genetics, half minding my own business.
What was your favorite movie/show when you were a kid? Was in Finding Nemo? I’m betting it was LOL
Actually, it wasn’t! My favorite show was “The Wild Thornberry’s” and my favorite movie was “Cars.”
What is your all time favorite movie?
Oh my gosh, this is so hard to pick! I don’t think I have an “all time favorite” as I have a handful that I watch when I’m in a certain mood.
Are you vegan?
No. But I’m actively working at reducing my animal product/by-product intake. It’s a journey!
Do you have any pets?
No, but I’m saving up to get a dog after my PhD.
Five years ago, where did you see yourself in the future?
Not here! I expected to go straight from my MSc to my PhD (I didn’t), still living in New Zealand with my husband and maybe having a job with the Department of Conservation or something.
I’m super glad the Universe had other stuff in store for me.
Coldest weather you’ve ever been to?
I’ve been in negative F/C before but I’m blanking on where the heck I was…
What’s the best cold weather jacket?
I was able to get a Canada Goose jacket for this Arctic mission I’m currently on and NOT ONCE have I been cold, even when it’s pouring down and the wind is howling. Gets five stars from me!
Your favorite Leze pieces?
Kendall pant and Athena sweater in black are a must. I really want to get the Kendall pant and Amaya sweater in Bone (white). They’re classic colors that I don’t think will ever go out of style! Not to mention I want to pick up the Juniper Trench in Butter (white) as well.
You’re on TV a lot outdoors! How do you reapply sunscreen over your makeup?
Brush on sunscreen is the way to go, in my opinion. I love Colorescience one that comes in a few different shades. I use Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Brush-On Shield SPF 50.
How do you hone your interior designer skills?
I haven’t really had the time/space/money to do proper designing of any place I’ve been in. But C and I have been chatting about what we want our future house to be like - I’ve taken inspiration from hotels and what I find on Pinterest and recreate it with our own personality/vibe.
Biggest lesson 2020 taught you?
That my identity isn’t my job title(s)! I found detaching my identity from things like academic achievements hard initially but so important.
When are you coming to Mexico?
I’d love to go and visit in the next few years! Depends on what happens with COVID-19 and Australian borders.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being 100% terrified, how terrified are you with climate change?
Probably an eight (8) but I have hope we can still turn this around…
Not a question but you’re such an inspiration to me! – Fellow Latina marine biologist
Thank you so much for your support!
What attracted you most about your boyfriend?
He doesn’t play games and allows me to be a #boss without being intimidated. After I broke up with my ex, I really sat down with myself to figure out what qualities I wanted in a partner. Basically, the Universe said, “Thanks for being specific in your prayers” and BAM. There he was.
Did you have to compromise on any “must haves” of your dream guy when you met C?
Nope. The quote “You aren’t asking for too much, you are just asking the wrong person” is SO true. He’s everything I wanted in a partner and more! I lucked out nabbing this gem of a human.
What’s the most thoughtful gift C ever gave you?
Oof, this is a toughie. I think the one that always warms my heart is a brownie he got me from a café in Sydney he used to go to. He was raving about it and I was so jealous he was going on and on about this delicious brownie. Well, a little bit later when I was heading out to do some filming, I found a little brown paper bag with “Melissa” written on it. In the bag? The brownie.
Will you ever have kids?
Yup, my partner and I have discussed it.
EDUCATION & WORK
Our son is going to college next year and wants to be a marine biologist. Advice?
Network – and start early doing it! Don’t discount social media as a networking platform because the opportunities available online are mind-blowing. Like many other industries, often it’s about who you know.
What do you prefer – in person classes or online presentations?
Depends on the topic! Online presentations allow for a wider audience, in-person classes allow for better dialogue at times.
How does one apply to a master’s program? What do you look for?
I just wrote a post that might help you. Good luck!
How much do you earn?
I’m on a stipend for my PhD where I earn about $27-28k AUD a year. I supplement that with my book writing, freelance writing, speaking events, and TV gigs – those amounts vary.
I’m starting a new job! Any tips?
Spend the first couple of months listening! Learn new skills from your peers but also listen to your colleagues and see what challenges there are in the company/organization. Evaluate your skills and see if you can solve or help in any of the areas that were brought up.
Least favorite thing about your job?
Sometimes the long hours can get to you! But I get to do this, I don’t have to do it.
I see you’re working with (National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, OceanX, etc.). Can you get me a job with [insert company name here]?
No. I’m not a permanent employee with any of these organizations and have no sway on whether you can get hired by them or not. Please reach out to them, not me, about getting a job.
How do I get involved in a research expedition such as the one you are on right now?
The current expedition I am on is for a TV show. The networks selected the presenters/hosts, and I’m not sure their hiring process so I can’t help with that regard!
For scientific research expeditions (off camera), I suggest reaching out to the leaders of it and talking about how your skills can benefit the trip. Good luck!
What would it look like to have you as a guest speaker at an event?
Email me and if the budget, timing, and topic align… yay!
Favorite place to go diving?
I love the Caribbean but want to do more around Australia.
What are your thoughts on deep sea mining?
I think it’s irresponsible to start destroying an ecosystem we know so little about. To learn more about deep sea mining, start here.
What books do you recommend to learn about marine biology?
In no particular order, here are some of my fave reads: Log From the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck, Eating the Ocean by Elspeth Probyn, The Science of the Ocean by the Natural History Museum, and The Marine World - A Natural History of Ocean Life by Frances Dipper. Happy reading!
How difficult is it to become a shark scientist?
Just like a job in any other industry, there is a healthy dose of competition! Charismatic animals (such as sharks and whales/dolphins) are popular so it can be quite cutthroat.
If you could speak to a shark, without it wanting to nibble on your feet, what would you ask?
Why it chooses certain habitats and not others – my academic interests lie in habitat use and processes that influence their decisions!
I want to study/help protect sharks but don’t have a degree. How can I get involved?
Great question! You can donate your time and/or money to organizations and charities that are already doing some incredible work in both studying and protecting these animals (some of my favorites are The Shark Trust, Gills Club, and Atlantic White Shark Conservancy) or supporting the scientists who study them (my favorite is Minorities in Shark Science). Make sure that if you are spreading information about sharks and their relatives that it is correct and you aren’t feeding into the hysteria (think: do you really need to share that ‘shark attack’ article?). Follow shark scientists on social media (like Twitter and Instagram) and share their work with your network!
Other than working with water, what is the hardest part of working with sharks?
Funding! Money is limited in the science world so getting adequate funding for all the work everyone is doing can be really tough.
If humanity nukes itself into the fossil record will the hydrothermal vents be okay?
I mean… yeah?
If you had to choose, would you prefer to study sharks in cold or tropical environments?
TROPICAL!! Although, after working with Greenland sharks, I have so many questions about these predators in cold-water environments.
Why do manta rays jump?
I've seen many theories around why they do these acrobatic leaps - to impress one another (courtship), alerting others of food, removal of parasites, avoid being eaten by predators...
Why is it so hard to get photos of pregnant female great white sharks giving birth?
There is a lot we don’t know about/have observed in sharks – great whites giving birth is one of them!
AS ALWAYS, THANKS SO MUCH FOR SENDING IN YOUR GREAT QUESTIONS! BE SURE TO KEEP UP WITH MY INSTAGRAM STORIES TOWARDS THE END OF THE MONTH TO GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN FOR THE NEXT Q&A!
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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