Born and raised in the congested Eastern U.S. coring expert Chris Moser couldn’t wait to get away to the west - to freedom. At his first chance, he did and there he has stayed, up in the Pacific Northwest, with a family he cherishes and a career he absolutely loves. What is it about his work that is so terrific? “It’s always full of curiosities and exploration – it’s always new, challenging and exciting!” Chris’ work with the Oregon State University Coring Facility takes him to sea often where he is constantly working with top researchers. Together they work on the frontline, pushing the boundaries of science research and technical capabilities. Box coring, multi-coring, piston coring – you name it! Chris is the man.
Chris has always loved the outdoors – camping, hiking, exploring. During his military high school years in West Virginia his chemistry and physics teachers were great supporters and helped foster Chris’ passion for nature and learning. He went on to Dickinson College, where his grandmother graduated from, to study physics but was quickly turned off by the math. Today Chris is quick to say, “I can now, in retrospect, greatly appreciate the math that was presented to me and how it fits into the research that I now use. But at the time, in college, with that calculus professor and at that time in my life, it was SO dry that it was awful.” Chris switched to geology, as he found that he could earn a degree doing the things he loved: exploring and working in the field! One of his geology professors took Chris’ class on a driving field trip all the way from Pennsylvania to Alaska and they studied the geology all along the way – such an amazing opportunity!
Chris’ professors were pleased with his work and encouraged him to go on to graduate school, so with geology degree in hand, Chris headed west to Oregon State University. The research community at OSU had embraced the burgeoning “Theory of Plate Tectonics”, which Chris had yet to study so he struggled at a bit the start. He took one year off and tried out a degree program in Education but returned to marine sciences, refocused and energized to get back in the game. He studied ocean sediment cores and worked on coring during graduate school and after he completed the degree was recruited to work with sediment traps for the MANOP Project on ocean vessels. The project ended but the sediment trap work continued so Chris stayed with it for the next 15 years.
Funding dried up (funny how it tends to do that!) and in the 1990s, attention in the scientific community started to turn towards climate change. The community needed increased resolution of the variability of our recent climate past in order to better understand the human impact. Ocean coring for paleoclimatology started growing and Chris was there with Pete Kalk who was thinking about retiring. Pete and Chris worked together for years before Pete retired. Chris counts himself lucky to have had the time with Pete! He has been there, now for 15 years and is starting to think about retirement - time to start thinking about passing the torch. I asked him about programs that exist that may help pipeline students into technical positions and he mentioned the MATE program. But for now, Chris has Paul Walczak, pictured right, on his team, and Paul may be just the person to take the torch!
One last note - which is a delightful one to me because two people said this to me today (both Chris Moser and Nick McCave), when I asked them if they have any advice for high school students thinking about what they want to do with their lives. Each of them said, independently, that you should follow your dreams and do what you want to do. Don't let people push you into something you're not passionate about.
Pretty great advice from two tremendously successful people!
Jeff Hood, Cape Cod born, is currently a Lead Mechanic at WHOI where he repairs and fabricates oceanographic equipment when he’s on land. At sea, Jeff is a coring technician who specializes in the amazing CDH Long Core. Jeff, following in his father’s footsteps, joined the Air Force after high school where his mechanics savvy was quickly identified and developed. He was stationed at Castle Air Force Base in California and in addition to learning mechanical skills that would lead him to his current career, he had the chance to travel extensively throughout much of the world. It was a terrific opportunity!
Jeff returned to the Cape after his time in the Air Force and while putting his mechanical skills to use began to add welding to his repertoire. After some time working at various shops on the Cape and a tour during Desert Storm, Jeff was offered a position working at WHOI. Now, happily settled on the Cape with his wife Annette and his 8-year old son George, Jeff loves his work because he gets to work on cutting edge technology with some of the best engineers in the world. When I asked him what he likes the most about being at sea I wasn’t surprised when he said that he loves the challenge of having to “make do” with what you have on the ship. “You can’t run out to the ‘parts’ store when you’re at sea.”
French researcher Isabelle Gil started out her academic life at Pantheon Sorbonne University interested in coastal geomorphology but exposure to the world of research drove her to change direction. For Isabelle, the new path was in the growing field of paleoclimatology. Today Isabelle has a post-doc working jointly for LNEG, the Portuguese National Laboratory for Energy and Geology and WHOI where she studies diatoms present in cored marine sediments from the North Atlantic to gather data about paleoclimates.
Isabelle chose to do her research practical abroad, studying coastal geomorphology in Brazil. Once in Brazil she learned that there was no funding available to analyze beach rocks but the group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro offered her the opportunity to learn about coring, sampling and studying diatoms from the coastal lagoon (click here for non-satellite map). At that point her education had been preparing her for a vocational degree but she was introduced to the world of academic research and she was hooked! She returned to Europe to continue working on these cores, completed her DEA at University of Bordeaux I and moved on to study and write about diatoms in ocean cores for her Ph.D at Bremen University in Germany. One of the cores she worked on for this degree was from the Laurentian Fan (sound familiar?) sent to her by our Chief Scientist, Lloyd Keigwin! Now Isabelle will return to Lisbon and start digging in to all the samples she has gathered from the Western Atlantic. This paleodata will be used in climate modeling. Her favorite part about being at sea? “It’s great to see how the work is done – it really balances the time you spend behind the microscope and writing up papers. It’s the fun part!”
Sarah Schulenberg, Graduate Student UNH
I stumbled into paleoceanography/paleoclimatology, to be honest. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry at a small state university and began to realize towards the end of that track that I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. I had begun to hear about graduate school from professors and teaching assistants. It sounded like a good deal: they pay your tuition and fees and pay you a stipend to teach or do research, all while earning a degree that may earn you more money in the end. At least that is how it translated into my mind.
Around the same time, I had learned about a melding of disciplines known as geochemistry. I began the search for graduate programs in geochemistry, not knowing that was about as ambiguous as saying a degree in chemistry.
I ended up being accepted into the graduate program in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. I was put under the advisement of a faculty member interested in hydrogeology and geomicrobiology.
I was not enjoying my course work or the possible avenues of research that were being talked about for me. I decided to visit some of the other faculty in the department and find out about their research. I found a faculty member who was interested in paleoceanography and paleoclimatology. When I told her I was not a geologist, she caught me with a line that I remember still, “Oh, I never consider myself a geologist. If I had to classify myself, I would say oceanographer or chemist.” I switched advisors and began to enjoy my courses so much so that I switched from pursuing a Master’s degree to the PhD track.
I am not always convinced that I will be able “to hack it” but I am doing my best to enjoy the education I am receiving. I am also continually meeting people that help me to understand what I am now or may be capable of. I have since followed my advisor from Texas to the University of New Hampshire because I wanted to continue to work under her as I pursue my PhD.
In the fall of 2009, my advisor received an email from her former PhD advisor that extra hands were needed on a marine sediment cruise in the beginning of 2010. I immediately agreed not only due to my lack of field experience but also for the chance to experience the open ocean. A free trip to Bridgetown, Barbados was a nice perk as well.
While out at sea, I threw myself in wholeheartedly, jumping in where- and whenever needed. I wanted to learn and absorb as much as possible. Apparently, I made an impression because they asked me to come back out with them on this leg. It is certainly not all roses and sunshine everyday while out at sea but the work is satisfying to me. So few people see this side of science, the dirty side. A lot of grunt work goes into publishing those pretty, glossy scientific papers and I feel beyond grateful that I have been given the opportunity to experience it.
Marti Jeglinski, Research Assistant WHOI
Have you been to the Azores or Barbados or the Santa Barbara Basin? How about Bahamas, Panama Canal, Bermuda Rise or the Florida Straits? Perhaps Senegal or Iceland - all by ship? It’s time you meet Marti Jeglinski.
Cape Cod born Marti Jeglinski graduated from Salem State with a degree in Earth Sciences in 1977 and was hired by the United States Geological Survey back on the Cape. By 1979 Marti was hired by Charlie Hollister (yes the same one after whom the long core was named!) as a research assistant at WHOI. It was the start of career in scienc
e technology and research at WHOI spanning more than 30 years and still going. In the course of her career Marti married a Merchant Marine Chief Engineer Jim Jeglinski and had two sons who are now in their 20s. Her husband was at sea 6 months a year which made for quite a juggling act.
Marti’s interest in the sciences was piqued by a geology professor at Salem State. It was enough to pull her from her Education degree program and she hasn’t looked back since. At USGS and WHOI Marti worked with researchers in paleoclimate, physical oceanography and hard rock marine geology. She has run the mass spectrometer lab, maintained a benthic foraminifera culture lab, constructed and tested floats for physical oceanography studies, worked on mapping of the Kane Fracture Zone, an analyzed cores for forams.
Last year Marti was the recipient of the Linda Morse Porteous Award. I thought that it would be great for you to hear some of the remarks that were written by Marti’s colleagues and shared at the awards night.
“Even after long, hard hours of deck work you can count on her irrepressible spirit to
pick you up and get you through whatever challenge confronts you... she works tirelessly,
looking after everyone, cares passionately about getting all the goals of the cruise done
and done well, and does so with grace and a big smile on her face. As I have always said,
‘I want her in my lifeboat.’ ”
“From laboratory work, tedious at times, to production work, she has made modifications
to equipment, designed tools and fixtures for tasks that have been performed inefficiently
for years. She would tell me, ‘Just because it has always been done like this doesn’t mean
it’s the best way to do it.’ For instance, when she was working in the Float Group there
was a procedure of stretching a rubber bladder and wrestling it onto a pressure case. This
procedure requires tremendous physical strength... after she successfully installed a few
bladders she designed a tool to stretch these. A task that was once dreaded became so
simple that anyone could do it and it doubled the daily output.”
“She always finds the positive side of a difficult situation or person. She always finds
time for those in need, expecting nothing in return. She makes us all comfortable and at
ease in a difficult work environment.”
“She effectively conveys seemingly complicated and complex scientific notions, even to
those without a scientific background. Once while box coring in rough seas, the marine
technicians from Scripps did not understand the importance of recovering deep-sea
sediment samples in stratigraphic order. She used an analogy of ripping pages out of a
book, mixing them up, and then trying to interpret them. They immediately understood
and for the remainder of the trip the technicians were cautious when recovering material.”
When describing experiences with being out to sea with the awardee, one nominator said,
“She’s there for you when you cut yourself, she has remedies for just about whatever is
ailing you, and she will laugh along with you during the most trying times.”
Pretty amazing women, wouldn't you agree?