Allison Miller

Allison Miller, Schmidt Ocean Institute, Research Program Manager, Palo Alto, CA

I went to Florida State University for an MS in Physical Oceanography. While there, I knew that I didn’t want to be an academic researcher, but rather wanted a career working with scientists, using the skills I had and knowledge base a MS in a specific science field had given me. During my last semester at FSU, when I was writing my thesis, I interned at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, DC. There I split time between National Ocean Sciences Bowl and policy. When working for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, I helped manage the questions for the competitions, (I had to know all the answers!) and on the policy side, gained experience advocating for oceanographic-related bills to members of Congress. My internship ended up being extended a few months, and in the spring of 2008, I graduated from FSU and completed my internship at Ocean Leadership. Serendipitously, a position working with the National Ocean Sciences Bowl had opened up, which I worked at for three years managing the competition process of putting together the competition questions and working with expert scientists to write create questions. After three years, I remained at Ocean Leadership but became a Program Coordinator for the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). At NOPP, I mainly worked with all of the federal agencies that have oceanographic missions to coordinate their activities and goals. For example, I was the administrative support to the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Partnerships and also helped manage any funding opportunities that the agencies collaborated on and wanted a neutral person to manage the proposal process. Managing this program gave me broad experience working with federal agencies and I also gained expertise in the peer review process. In 2013, I moved to Schmidt Ocean Institute and became the Research Program Manager for the organization. Schmidt Ocean Institute owns and operates an oceanographic research vessel that it awards ship time to scientists based on a competitive peer review process. At Schmidt Ocean Institute, I am once again in a science support role where I work closely with scientists. My duties include, managing the permit application process to conduct work in international waters, sharing the data that results from each cruise as well as representing the organization in various roles at conferences and workshops. Although my duties are not specific to physical oceanography, I utilizing my strong science background everyday, whether its translating the science that will take place in a country’s EEZ on a permit application or looking a dataset and knowing what the data means and how it can be shared and conveyed to the general public. Although I have chosen to not pursue an academic career, I strongly feel I would not have the career I have without a strong scientific and oceanographic background.