Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Nigeria and India. My dad moved a lot for his job, so we lived in different places during my childhood.
Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?
I have a bachelors and masters degree in Zoology/Molecular Biology from University of Delhi, India. I have a second masters degree in Environmental Resources Management from Florida Tech. I also have a doctoral degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University, College Station.
How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?
I applied for the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division Director position in summer 2020 and was fortunate to have been selected. I had previously completed a short-stint in the same position in an acting capacity, which was thoroughly enjoyable and motivated me to apply for this job. I started my career in NOAA, as a 2009/2010 Sea Grant Fellow in the NOAA Research International Activities office. Thereafter, I joined the NOAA Fisheries with the Office of Science and Technology in Silver Spring, Maryland. I established the national protected species science program, and later served as Chief of the Protected Species Science Branch. There I focused on science coordination and support of research and development at the science centers. My next stop in my career was the Southeast Fisheries Science Center! Throughout my career, I have sought varied experiences through fieldwork and temporary assignments at different agencies and centers to meet different people and improve my scientific knowledge and understand the endless applications of the research we do.
What do you do at the science center?
I oversee research operations—from administrative to scientific activities—related to marine mammal and sea turtle research and conservation. This supports NOAA Fisheries’ mission of protecting marine mammals and sea turtles, and helping recover endangered species populations. Temporarily, I also oversee reef fish ecology, coral reef ecology and restoration activities, and habitat/ecosystem science programs.
What do you like most about your position?
The privilege of learning from and working with an exceptionally talented and dedicated workforce is excellent motivation to come to work every day. There are no monotonous days—every day brings forth new challenges (both good and bad) and a chance to learn something new whether research or people-related. Curiosity-driven science that leads to scientific breakthroughs and myriad activities that explore marine ecosystem functions and processes are things I am passionate about and committed to. Ultimately, it is a pleasure to work with a diverse community both within the center and beyond who share a common vision to study and conserve marine life and habitats, support the next generation of scientists, and work towards the betterment of society.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Learning Italian and trying to get better at speaking it. I also enjoy watching British crime and Scandi-noir drama, cricket and football (soccer) matches, trying out different adventure activities, and traveling internationally.