Professional headshot of stephanie gandulla and a photo of her driving a boat

Stephanie Gandulla | Resource Protection Coordinator

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

What does a typical day look like for you?

One of the best parts of working for our national marine sanctuaries is the variety of things we get to do from day to day. One day might find me scuba diving to deploy sanctuary shipwreck buoys in the morning and then appearing on live TV to talk about research. Another day might start with planning a project to map sanctuary bottomlands with autonomous technology and then delivering an outreach program to 5th graders. It’s never boring working to protect special places underwater!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

I love finding ways to connect people to our shared maritime history... and of course witnessing someone see a shipwreck for the first time, whether it’s underwater or from a glass bottom boat!

What if any challenges have you faced as a woman in an ocean-related career?

According to the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, only 26% of advanced scuba divers are women, and one challenge that I’ve faced is maintaining confidence as a minority. Finding mentors has been key and I see a future with more and more women embarking on careers in marine science.

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone who might be thinking of pursuing your career path?

Seek out mentors and ask them what you can do to be prepared for new experiences and opportunities. You can learn something from each and every person you encounter on your path—look for it!