Whenever I do a school broadcast, I get a lot of questions about working on the ship. How do we get a job here? Who do we work for? Do we get paid? So I thought I’d spell everything out in one go. The JOIDES Resolution is a large, complex operation, with a lot of different groups working together. Here are some of the main ones:
The Scientists are the people you probably hear about most. To be a scientist on the JR, you generally need to belong to a university in an IODP-member region, and have a post-grad qualification in a relevant field (The scientists on expedition 356 range from Masters students to PhD-holders).
Scientists apply for a specific expedition, and get paid by their IODP member offices. Once accepted, they spend two months onboard, working with cores, taking measurements, and recording data, but most of their work actually begins at the end of the expedition! Once they get back home, they have much more time to analyse samples and data, and eventually every scientist must write at least one paper on the things they’ve discovered as part of the expedition. The expedition scientists are the only ones allowed to use the samples and data for a year after they are taken (you might have noticed that we don’t talk about specific results on the blog!), but after that time has passed, ANYONE can use our findings and samples for their own research. All the cores are stored forever, so anyone who wants to look at some sediment from Western Australia in future can just go to the repository, instead of mounting another expedition!
Being a scientists suits people who like studying something in detail and at length, to find out exactly how it works.
The Technicians are the people who help the science happen but don’t do the actual research on the expedition. They cut the cores, maintain and run the lab equipment, move samples in and out of storage, and generally keep everything running smoothly (And have a bit of fun- they’re the ones in the title image!). They are an important part of all the scientific excitement onboard, but they don’t need to do so much homework afterwards. The techs are employed by Texas A&M University, the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator, and generally sail on every alternate expedition. Between expeditions they either have time off, or work for JRSO on land. The techs have science qualifications, but they aren’t necessarily as research-focused as the scientists.
The Crew are the people who work the ship and operate the heavy drilling machinery, but aren’t really involved in the science. They get the ship where it needs to go, run the drilling rig, and make sure we have power, water, heat, food, and plumbing, so the science party can focus on their research. The officers and supervisors are employed by Siem, (the company that owns the JR), and the rest of the crew are subcontracted by Siem through other companies. They need different licenses and training depending on their jobs, and like the technicians, the Siem crew rotate, with two months on board, two months off.
The Education/Outreach Officers are the people who keep the outside world informed about what’s happening on the JR. We run the social media, update the website, talk to schools, design educational programs, and run the blog (hello!). E/Os need basic qualifications in science, and experience in teaching and communication, so that we can understand what the scientists do, and explain it to the rest of the world. We also need to be enthusiastic, friendly, and flexible. We apply to the IODP, and are paid by our home science support programs like the scientists. E/Os mostly sail on a single expedition, but might do projects afterwards, like talking to schools about our experiences, or developing educational programs or resources.
Being an education officer suits people who like learning, writing, talking, and finding new ways to explain the world to other people.
So whether you’re thoughtful, practical, or just talkative (hello!), there are many pathways to working in science. Maybe some day soon you’ll join us on the JOIDES Resolution?