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Meet the Scientists

Learn what’s going on with the men and women who do invasive species research.

Find out about careers in science that focus on investigating aquatic invaders.

Meet some of the scientists who conduct invasive species research. Their research consists of ways to prevent the spread of established invasive species and how to prevent new species from invading. They will tell you what they do, why they wanted to become a scientist and what is the best part of their job. If you have specific questions for the researchers, go to the “Ask the Expert” section.

Juliana Harding, Ecologist, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

How did you get interested in your field?
I've always liked being outside, especially on the water, animals, and talking with people.  A career in aquatic biology seemed like just the right way to mix animals, water and people.

What do you do?
I am an ecologist.  At the moment, my research is a mix of 1) invasion biology and ecology, 2) oyster reef community ecology and restoration, and 3) population dynamics of coastal and estuarine communities.  Chesapeake Bay is home to the only known North American population of veined rapa whelks, Rapana venosa, large, non-native marine snails that eat clams and oysters.  We have research projects that are examining all aspects of rapa whelk biology and ecology particularly with regard to the Chesapeake's native clam and oyster resources which our program has been studying for decades.

I am fortunate in that I also get to develop educational materials related to my research and teach students and science teachers at all levels of my research

Some of the other things that I do as part of my job include database management, web site maintenance, and aquaculture

What do you like about your job?
I work with a wide range of people and different types of animals (fish, crabs, and molluscs including snails and clams (yes, molluscs are exciting!)) in several different habitats.  On any given day, I have a mix of field, lab, office, education, and/or public relations work to choose from.  The variety keeps life interesting.

David Delaney, Marine Ecologist and Invasion Biologist, McGill University

How did you get interested in your field?
I always loved the ocean and learning about all the fascinating forms of life that make up the great biodiversity that we have on this planet.  My youngest memories were of tide-pooling and walking the coasts of Massachusetts, volunteering to help stranded pilot whales, and the annual science fair.  As the age of 12, I became a certified scuba diver.  That at the age of 22 I was certified as an advanced scuba diver in the Galapagos Islands.  During my time on the Galapagos, I conducted evolutionary research on Darwin's finches, the world iconic birds of speciation.  Then I worked at the dive shop, "Scuba Iguana".

Invasive species was a by-product of my learning how to be a marine biologist.  As I learned the names and history of the species that I saw around me, I learned that most of them were not always native to here.  It sparked an interest that incorporated my passion for the oceans: marine invasion ecology.

What do you do?
I am a marine ecologist and invasion biologist that studies what is living, happening, and interacting in the world's oceans and trying to protect the biodiversity of this ecosystem.

To do this work, I explore the various coasts by boats, scuba diving, and on foot to determine if the new invasive species are there and what the old invasives are doing (monitoring).  This is a huge job and I cannot do it just by myself, so if you want to join my team and monitor your coast, please learn how by going to this link: CSI MISMO.

The oceans are changing everyday, I cannot keep up with all the changes all over the world but with your help, we have a chance.

What do you like about your job?
I love that I get to do what I love: travel, scuba dive, and spend the rest of my days thinking about challenging questions that I was always curious about.

Martin Berg, Biology Professor, Loyola University Chicago

How did you get interested in your field?
My interest in aquatic ecology began in my youth as a result of my experiences as an angler.  Although I was always fascinated by the fish I was trying to catch, what fascinated me even more were the insects and other invertebrates that the fish were eating.  It wasn't until college that I realized one could have a career studying aquatic invertebrates, so I pursued a Master's and Ph.D. focusing on aquatic insects.  Because of my dual interest in insects and fish, most of my work has focused on aquatic food webs and invertebrate-fish interactions.

What do you do?
I am an Associates Professor in the Department of Biology at Loyola University Chicago where I teach courses in ecology, aquatic insects, and biostatistics and experimental design.  Much of my research focuses on the impact of invasive species on food webs in nearshore areas of the Great Lakes.  I have been studying in impact of an invasive fish, the round goby, on bottom-dwelling invertebrates.  Because these invertebrates are very important as food for game and non-game fishes, changes in invertebrate communities resulting from invasive species can have strong effects on fish populations.  In addition to my research on invasive species, I also have projects examining the role of aquatic insects in energy flow in streams and the control of nuisance aquatic insects.
What do you like about your job?
There are a lot of things that I like about my job, but probably the most important is having the opportunities to interact with students and educate our future leaders while also having the freedom to conduct research on topics that interest me.  It's also great being able to spend a significant part of my time in the field.  An additional benefit of conducting field research is that it allows me to work in diverse and fascinating areas, such as Alaska and Hawaii.