What did you study at NYU, and what do you do today?
I was a graduate student in biology and took courses in that department. I got my MS and PhD there and subsequently became a professor at Rutgers, where I taught and did research primarily in the field of marine / estuarine biology for well over 40 years. I am now professor emerita, meaning I am technically retired, but still very busy professionally. I am involved in many advisory committees such as that for the new Hudson Canyon Marine Sanctuary, am on working committees of the NY/NJ Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP), and the Science Advisory Board of NJ Department of Environmental Protection. I collaborate with an international group of scientists, the Scientists Coalition for an Effective Plastic Treaty, some of whom have been going to the meetings of diplomats who are trying to craft this new treaty and having input. We are also working on a paper for a journal, so it does not feel like retirement. But I only do what I want to and have no one to blame but myself for being too busy!
Tell us a fun fact about you.
I have, since college, been interested in singing in choruses and in opera / operetta or musical choruses. I sang in a very large chorus while an undergraduate at Cornell University and a smaller one at NYU. I currently sing in the Choral Society of Grace Church (not far from NYU!) and we are working on a program of Psalms, from medieval to contemporary, to be presented in early May 2024. I have done every Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, most of them more than once, and as of January 2024 am currently in rehearsals for a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which will be presented in NYC by Amore Opera in January and February. The chorus has very little to do in this opera, but we have lots of time to sit and listen to the glorious voices of the soloists!
How did your NYU education impact your career trajectory?
Because I married my husband who was in school in NYC, I decided to go to grad school at NYU (Columbia University had no marine or ecology faculty at all at that time, and CUNY was just beginning their graduate program). NYU had some ecologically-oriented faculty members, one of whom was a fish biologist, who did a lot of field work. During my first semester I came to talk with him about working in his lab. He had never had a woman in his lab before and didn’t quite know what to do with me. He eventually suggested that field work might be too strenuous and suggested that a lab project would be best (I had done plenty of field work during two summers at Woods Hole, MA as a lab assistant and as a student in a marine ecology class!). Nevertheless, this was before the women’s movement, and I didn’t want to argue with him, so I agreed to do that. There were many tanks of zebrafish in the lab, and they were reproducing.