Local Scientists

Attention Guam Students:
There are endless possibilities in pursuing marine sciences to help protect Guam’s coral reefs and marine resources!


(listed in alphabetical order, based on last name)




Terry Donaldson
terryjdonaldson@gmail.com


What’s your current position and agency/organization?  
Director and Professor of Ichthyology, University of Guam Marine Laboratory

 
What field do you specialize in? Why?  
Ichthyology (incorporating taxonomy, behavioral ecology, biogeography, and conservation biology).  A childhood interest in fishes. 

 
What is your current project(s) on Guam?  
Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium (NSF-EPSCoR), characterization of reef fish spawning aggregations, mating systems of fishes, habitat ecology of fishes, extinction risk analyses.

 
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?  
Discovering something new in nature.

 
Do you have any hard lessons learned from your career?  
Nature doesn’t always cooperate so be tenacious.

 
If a student wants to pursue marine science or a similar field, what suggestions would you share with them?  
Do well in ALL basic courses and exceptional well in specialized courses. Find a small problem that needs solving and conduct your own research upon it; find a mentor to help you. Read, then question.
 




Alexander Kerr
uogmarinelab@gmail.com

 

 
What’s your current position and agency/organization?
Associate Professor of Marine Biology, Marine Laboratory, University of Guam

 
What field do you specialize in? Why?
Molecular phylogenetics. Because the ancestor-descendent relationship of species (i.e., the Tree of Life) is one of the most interesting and important basic unanswered questions in modern biology.
 
What is your current project(s) on Guam?

 
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching a students face light up when they understand something difficult after long struggle and study.

 
Do you have any hard lessons learned from your career?
I’m super lucky to be able to do what I do.

 
If a student wants to pursue marine science or a similar field, what suggestions would you share with them?
Learn to express yourself well through writing and oral presentations - these things only come thru constant practice and reading good writing and attending good seminars.

Study like crazy so as to do well in coursework, especially maths, physics and chemistry.

Constantly read books recommended by respected professors, incl books outside of your narrow field of interest.

Participate in a research project under the advisement of a good professor to learn what actually doing science is like.

Some of my other thoughts on the questions above are at:


John "Bart" Lawrence
bart.lawrence@pb.usda.gov


What is your current position and agency/organization?
Assistant Director, United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Western Pacific Area Office
 
What field do you specialize in? Why?
My educational background and interests are in tropical forest ecology and history. But my position with USDA NRCS is to support USDA Conservation Program delivery on private lands and to work with local units of Government to provide conservation technical assistance to address natural resource concerns to ensure resilient island communities (i.e. soil health, forest health, water quality, pollinator habitat, etc.)
 
What is your current project(s) on Guam?
USDA NRCS actively supports Guam farmers with conservation planning to sustain their operations and enhance crop, fruit, forest and livestock production objectives. NRCS supports and guides users with landscape scale watershed planning to ensure health forests, soils, water and coral reefs. We are also engaged in support small-scale community garden for at risk youth and families and US Military veterans.
 
What is most rewarding part of your job?
Being able to work with people in the community from youth to seniors and other groups such as veterans and helping them to see opportunities to meet their needs. Sharing and exchanging knowledge and information to help change lives, even in a small way. Building people’s awareness about conservation issues and opportunities and the important history of Guam’s natural environment.
 
Do you have any hard lessons from your career?
Be nicer and less critical of failures. Everyone learns at different rate and pace.
 
If a student wants to pursue marine science or a similar field, what suggestions would you share with them?
Follow your passion and be happy. Find joy in a job and don’t feel like you have to do something because “that is always the way it is done”.

Challenge yourself to see the world through other people’s eyes and experience. I am a forester, not a marine specialist, so my guidance is for a student….study soils, natural and human history for the place you are from or what to work, learn a second language and be open to the views of others.

Work hard, be on time and listen to nature.







Adrienne Loerzel
adrienne.loerzel@noaa.gov


What’s your current position and agency/organization?
Coral management liaison and coastal specialist
TBG under contract to NOAA
  
What field do you specialize in? Why?
I have formal training in cell and marine biology, but lately I have been working mostly on watershed management issues. This includes a range of topics from forest restoration to coastal management policy and regulation.
 
 
What is your current project(s) on Guam?
  • Watershed restoration. I am looking at the wider use of native species in conservation and restoration projects, as well as landscaping and commercial applications. In 2016, I will start trials to consider soil augmentation and fertilizers to help "jump start" restoration by reducing the need for nurse trees and providing conditions that may make it possible to support natural recruitment in areas like Saipan, which still has natural seed dispersers. 
 
  • Capacity building for construction best management projects. I'm working with the Guam Trades Academy and a specialized engineering firm to develop a sustainable training program to teach construction workers how to implement effective erosion control methods. 
 
  • Coordination and collaboration - I work with many local, federal and community partners to advance conservation goals for Guam. This includes some grant management work as well as coordination efforts to help us all meet our respective missions while contributing to better management of our island's limited natural resources. 
 
 
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I am happiest when I am outside in the field, but I am most satisfied with my work when I can get multiple partners aligned to complete a project that's bigger than any one agency or individual could pull off alone. Finding the right motivation and the right mechanism to have everyone contribute their best work can make a small idea into an amazing project. 
 
 
 
Do you have any hard lessons learned from your career?
Many natural resource professionals go into this field because they love nature and science. I am driven by these same passions, but I have realized that effective resource management is first and foremost about working with people. Not everyone shares the same goals and not everyone agrees on the best path to move forward, but we all have to get along to make things happen. 
 
 
 
If a student wants to pursue marine science or a similar field, what suggestions would you share with them?
Don't limit yourself to a single job description or path. There are opportunities available that you may not even realize are possible, so go out and explore to see what you can do. 
 
 

Valerie Brown

What’s your current position and agency/organization?
Fishery Biologist
NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office
Habitat Conservation Division
and Coral Reef Conservation Program
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
 
 
What field do you specialize in? Why?
Coral Reef Ecology. I like to study the interactions between organisms and their environment - including people!  Reefs are amazingly complex ecosystems to study and I never get bored!
 
 
What is your current project(s) on Guam?
I work on a lot of different types of projects:
 
  • Habitat Blueprint - leading efforts to protect fish habitat through watershed restoration and community engagement
 
  • Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program - I'm the Science Coordinator for this community program that helps residents learn about reefs and help us collect data to monitor reef health.
 
  • I also monitor fish populations on reefs, study the impacts of sedimentation on reefs, and work with federal partners to reduce impacts on the reef from projects such as road construction, dredging, and wharves.  Occasionally I get to help out with marine mammal and sea turtle work as well.
 
 
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Two things, actually.  The first is working with the community to help them learn about Guam's amazing marine resources and how to help protect them.  The second is preventing damage to Guam's reefs through various projects and partnerships.
 
 
Do you have any hard lessons learned from your career?
None of us can do everything by ourselves.  It takes a lot of collaboration, coordination, and partnership (as well as a little luck) to make things happen.  It also takes a lot of patience sometimes!
 
If a student wants to pursue marine science or a similar field, what suggestions would you share with them?
Go out and explore and learn in the big laboratory of the ocean!  You should also pay attention in school and take as many math and science classes as you can.  I would also strongly recommend seeking internships or participating in programs like the Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program to get some hands on experience.

 


 

More information on other Scientists will be posted here soon...