If there is one piece of advice that marine biologist and Nifty Fifty Speaker April Croxton would give young students aspiring to pursue a career in science it would be: Don’t narrow down your career choice in science too early. “Science is so vast an area, encompassing so many disciplines, some of them often intersecting and crossing over to other areas that also may be appealing to you,” says April, a fishery biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Milford, CT. “Take time to explore and study as many areas of science as you can before deciding on a specific career path,” she advises.
April should know. She followed her own advice before embarking on her own challenging career in marine and environmental science at NOAA, where she researches the role of environmental stressors on the immune defense functions of bivalve species – a class of marine and freshwater mollusks such as oysters, clams, scallops and mussels.
Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, April developed a strong interest in science, particularly marine science, in elementary school – a passion that was accentuated when her mother took her to the harbor aquarium in Baltimore where she saw her first dolphin. “I absolutely loved it,” says April. “I knew then that I wanted to do research in an aquatic setting. But as I prepared to enter college, I was torn between majoring in marine biology or biology.” She ultimately decided on biology. “That was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she recalls, “since it broadened my range and experience by exposing me to not only marine biology but to various other areas in the biological sciences, including environmental science, which I ultimately specialized in for my Ph.D. studies.”
Read more about April here.