David Johnston is an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Marine Conservation & Ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. As a kid, growing up miles from the ocean, he fell in love with the dazzling underwater photography brought into his living room by television. Today, he uses radio telemetry to get a more detailed image of the behavior of the ocean’s magnificent mammals.
Roland Kays started studying animals in a physics class. He thought he wanted to work in a genetic engineering lab but thought better of it when he saw a film about a zoologist peering into prairie dog mounds looking for burrowing owls. He switched his major to zoology and fell in love with mammals. Today, he keeps tabs on thousands of mammals in their natural habitats with the aid of new technology and citizen volunteers at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences.
It took Tana Villafana some time to figure out that she wanted to be a chemist. She started out hoping to be a writer and a musician. But as things worked out, she got to combine her love of the humanities with her love of electromagnetism.
Ph.D. Research Assistant: employed by a university to conduct research while seeking to earn a doctorate degree. They are typically responsible to a principal investigator.
F. Joel Fodrie is a fisheries ecologist at the UNC Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science. He grew up fishing, shrimping, surfing, knee boarding, and goofing around a lot, but he didn’t think you could have a career in the ocean. A poster on a college bulletin board changed all that. Today, he is a fish detective, revealing the secret life of fish from beneath the water's surface.
Dr. Ashok Gopalarathnam is an associate professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering at NCSU. As a boy he read adventure novels about a detective in Special Air Police. Today he uses wind tunnels and computer simulations to understand the physics of vortices and stalls of airplanes, helicopters, and hand-held drones.
When did you discover you wanted to be an aeronautical engineer?