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Career Story: Director Of Regional Oceanographic Education Centers

Director Of Regional Oceanographic Education Centers

Job Title: Director Of NSF Ocean Science Education Regional Centers

Type of Company: A regional National Science Foundation-funded program to increase interactions with scientists and educators and broaden participation in ocean sciences.

Education: BS, Biology, Mary Baldwin College •• (Staunton, VA) •• MS, Biological Sciences, Florida State University •• Ph.D., Science Education, North Carolina State University

Previous Experience: I worked as a North Carolina Sea Grant education specialist.

Job Tasks: As director, I develop programmatic focus, coordinate staff effort, raise money, generate partnerships, and maintain regional and national networks. I try to support my staff's efforts and ensure that our goals are always fresh in their minds. Sometimes, the hard part is limiting the scope and developing more depth. However, the National Science Foundation keeps changing its focus and those of us outside of Washington have to constantly react and adapt.

So most days are spent emailing, calling, brainstorming and providing help to the staff. Other days are spent writing reports, proposals and letters of support. Maintaining a balance between regional and national priorities is hard; finding the best way to evaluate the program is hard; and celebrating the successes is easy.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the joy I derive from working with really great people locally, regionally and nationally. Seeing some creative efforts pan out and become products of use to many types of people is also great. Personally, it is wonderful to meet people whom you taught years ago who remember some fun part of the class or experience.

The worst parts are the paperwork and the vagaries of DC politics and their effect on regional policy.

Job Tips:
1. Experience and training in both science and education help. 2. Always be diplomatic as you will meet people over and over again. 3. Following through on projects is critical to building trust and friendships. 4. Being honest and open in transactions will save you ending up in a clique and missing out on opportunities. 5. Work as hard as you want your staff to work. You are the model.

Additional Thoughts: Be flexible and learn every day. Keep smiling. Getting a Ph.D. is not critical and may not make you smarter, but it helps in building communication with peers, especially scientists. It is a "rite of passage" that pays off in the long term.

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