Hi Heather !

You are a young woman sailing on the JR as an assistant Lab Officer …


Can you explain your curriculum in science ?

I began University studying Biology to become a Medical Doctor. During
my first year at university my dormatory roommate was ‘looking at maps’,
and going on ‘outdoor field trips’ for a course she was doing in
Geology. It seemed way more interesting than Biology at that time.
Actually, I was intrigued because I did not really know what Geology was
– as it was not offered in my high school curriculum. I decided to
visit the Geology Department and they asked me to join on a geological
field trip.
I went on the field trip and as soon as I returned I
switched Majors to Geology, with a minor in Chemistry.

my last year of my Bachelors of Science a professor brought to my
attention the possibility to sail as a ‘Student’ scientist onboard the
JOIDES Resolution (JR). I applied and got the position. I used rocks
recovered from that Expedition (Leg 200) to work on for my Masters of
Science, which I worked on for the next 2 years. Once I completed
my Masters of Science I applied for a technical job onboard the JR.
After sailing as a student scientist I knew I wanted to get a full time
position as a technician onboard the JR. The possibility of sailing
around the world and working with the top scientists in their field
excited me. I was hired onboard the JR after my Masters and placed in
the Physical Properties Lab where I worked for 5 years. After the
physical properties lab I moved into the Xray lab. I spent another 5
years there, after which I became Assistant Laboratory Officer. Now I
help supervise the technical staff and laboratories and am a part of the
logistical side taking care of shipping and receiving during port

Can you explain your motivation ?

This job is one of a kind. You get to sail around the world and see
rocks from the ocean floor that no one has ever seen.

You get to be a
part of history in the making. The scientists are the best in their
field and the labs we have onboard are state of the art. I enjoy being
part of the ‘discovery’. Not many people get to sail onboard this
floating laboratory and being able to do it and get paid is great.

Can you explain the good and bad points of your job ?

– the
good: Traveling the world. Working two months on and two months off –
so I actually only work 6 months of the year. Being part of an amazing
world wide scientific organization and working with some amazing
scientists and crew.

– the bad: Having to spend 6 months at
sea away from your family and friends. If I want to have children I will
have to take time off (most likely permanently) as there are no
children allowed to sail onboard!
Can you explain to young students what are the qualities needed to succeed in science / to be a technician ?

– have a want to explore and understand the world and your surroundings. A
good study habit will help get the grades. If you like to ask questions
and find answers – science is a good bet.

– technician
skills include the ability to problem solve and follow scientific
methods. Be able to identify problems with data and have the ability to
repair the instrument issues.
Do you have any specific advice or comment toward female students in science / technic ?

if you want to pursue a career in science don’t let anything stop you. I
have sailed with just as many female technicians as male technicians
onboard the JR and both are equal in their abilities as a technician. Do
not let the fact that you are female ever cross your mind, it makes no
difference to your technical skills or ability to succeed in science. If
you have the drive you will be successful. Anything worth doing in life
takes effort – get a degree in science and join us onboard the JOIDES
Resolution! Come explore the ocean floor and travel the world with us!

Heather Barnes