The Dads Who Made Us

Influence of Father Figures on SciAll’s Scientists

For Colin Howe, Tropical Marine Ecologist, his dad influenced his path towards becoming a Marine Scientist in many profound ways.
Both of his parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Caribbean, and his father’s military career provided the lifestyle and opportunity for both Colin and his brother to be able to choose whatever they wanted for their future career path. For Colin, that was Marine Science! He also credits his father’s guidance and strong emphasis on education, hard work, dependability, and always being present as things that helped shape him into the Marine Scientist that he is today!

Dr. Jenan Kharbush, Chemical Oceanographer / Microbial Biogeochemist, Father came from a family that placed a high value on education.
He is a Mechanical Engineer, and grew up as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon. His family regarded education as a way to change their circumstances. Math and science were especially big focuses during his upbringing, and therefore became a big influence in Jenan’s childhood as well. Her father had a big influence in how she approached her education. She didn’t always like it, and by the time she got to college she was really over a lot of the math he used to make her study… but without that she wouldn’t have learned the persistence and ability to deal with frustration that is a big part of any scientific career. Her father was always really supportive, even when she switched careers and told him she wanted to study Oceanography instead of going to medical school! In the end he’s very proud of her, and that’s what matters.

In Mariana Rocha de Souza, Coral Biologist, case, she and her whole family are from Brazil and her father comes from a very humble background.
Becoming a Marine Biologist in Brazil was not easy. She had a passion for everything ocean related, but her father always questioned it. He would relay stories about his upbringing when there were times the family didn’t have food on the table. He would also send her job applications within her hometown to be a police officer, or to work at a post office… which are all great jobs but she had a passion for Marine Science! Throughout her whole career path – her undergrad, graduate school in France, and now getting her Ph.D. in Hawaii – her dad has always questioned her becoming a Marine Biologist. He doesn’t quite understand the job of a Marine Biologist. He is very proud of her and happy when she told him she was teaching at the university, because it was a job he could more easily understand. Then, one time she gave a talk at the university in her hometown and her family came to watch. That night, things changed. He was so proud and finally able to appreciate her achievements and passion! Since then, he’s been super supportive of her career, and stopped sending her any job offers :).

Dr. Beth Lens, Marine Biologists, definitely recognizes her father’s inspiration in her Marine Biology career.
It was, however, in a really round about way. Her dad is a physician who does family practice and emergency medicine. When Beth was little, she thought she wanted to be a medical doctor. She loved Biology and the way life worked. She also really wanted to help people. As she got older, her dad would give her reports and cases related to malpractice lawsuits, and tell her “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.” So, oddly enough he did not encourage medical school. Beth then became more interested in ecology, marine biology, and being loved being outside connecting with the environment. And her dad was all for it! He also encouraged her and her 5 siblings to embrace their artistic side. He was really supportive when Beth pursued science and still dabbled in theater. At one point her dad really hoped she would get a job at Sea World, but instead she got a job in Hawaii.

Future Scientist Father!

Dr. Mike Gil, Marine Ecologist, is excited to be an expecting father and scientist!
He’ll be a father himself in 2021, and is excited to share his appreciation of the natural world with his kids. More importantly, instilling in them the truth that they can pursue their own creativity in life. There are boundless opportunities to use ones creativity to not only learn more about the world, but help humanity in the process. He’s not going to force his kids to be scientists by any stretch, but it will be fun to show them the doors they can open.

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