Figure shows salinity in the Mediterranean Sea.

Read research articles. This is one important way that oceanographers learn about the results of other scientists. They build on previous results as they develop plans for their own research.
Meet with colleague to discuss revisions to NSF proposal that will soon be re-submitted. Research proposals are sometimes not funded the first time they are submitted. The scientists get feedback from peer reviewers and can then improve the proposal for re-submission. In this proposal, Amy and a colleague are proposing to study eddies that form off the west coast of Greenland.
Attend Buoy Lunch seminar. Field research in physical oceanography often involves strong partnerships between scientists and the engineers who design and build instruments. They meet together weekly to discuss new ideas and emerging technologies in ocean instrumentation.
Write short abstract for upcoming international meeting of the European Geophysical Union. The abstract summarizes the results from a recent study of currents in the Gulf of Aden (Indian Ocean). These results will be presented at the meeting, either in poster form or in an oral presentation. This is another important way that scientists communicate about their most recent results.
Read more research articles.


Amy at work at her computer.

Meet with another colleague to discuss improvements on NSF proposal. Scientists frequently share ideas, even if they are not working closely together.
Phone colleague at another institution to discuss development of new sound sources for tracking RAFOS floats.
Meet with engineer to discuss recent failure of a sound source. The ocean is a harsh environment for electronic and mechanical instruments. Salt water tends to corrode many components. In spite of good designs, the instruments we put in the ocean sometimes don’t work as planned.
Analyze temperature and salinity data from the North Atlantic Ocean, looking for evidence of climate changes.
ttend the weekly physical Oceanography seminar. This is one way to keep up with the latest research results from other oceanographers.


Amy enjoying a nice day near the ocean.

Work on draft of revised proposal. A typical NSF proposal can only be 15 pages long, so Amy needs to describe her ideas and research plan concisely and clearly.
Attend an informal discussion where another physical oceanographer from WHOI describes a new research idea and solicits advice from others in the department.
Meet with other WHOI oceanographers to help devise a plan for future ship needs at WHOI. WHOI will then advise the federal government, who generally provides funding for new research vessels, as to the number and type of vessels that are needed to conduct new types of oceanographic research over the next 20 years.


Plots showing the tracks of buoys floating in the ocean.

Dean Search Committee meeting. Scientists often participate in the hiring directors and other administrators for their institutions.
Analyze recent float tracks from the Gulf of Aden. Amy writes computer programs to display and manipulate the float data. These float tracks revealed the existence of strong eddies that had not previously been observed.
Visit a local elementary school to talk about ocean currents with a fifth grade science class. Amy enjoys sharing her excitement about the oceans with kids and adults.


Amy at work in the main lab of a research vessel.

Read and review a manuscript that another physical oceanographer has submitted for publication in the Journal of Physical Oceanography, one of the main professional journals Amy reads. If the results described in the manuscript are new and interesting, Amy will recommend to the journal’s editor that the manuscript be published. This is another aspect of the “peer review” system by which most scientific research is judged.
Leave for airport to fly to St. John’s, Newfoundland. There Amy will meet one of WHOI’s research vessels, the R/V Oceanus, and begin a two week cruise to study the pathways of Labrador Sea Water into the North Atlantic Ocean using subsurface RAFOS floats.

Amy Bower

  • Associate Scientist, Physical Oceanography
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Instituion

More about Amy

More Remarkable Careers

Melanie Holland

Melanie Holland studies the microbes that thrive in scalding temperatures surrounding hydrothermal vents. These amazing organisms not only reveal important information about the vent communities, they may also provide insights into the origin of life on Earth and the possible existence of life on other planets.

View full profile …

Dawn Wright
  • Dawn Wright
  • Associate Scientist, Geography/Marine Geology

Master Lego-constructor and former bicycle-racer Dawn Wright has immersed herself in two disciplines. As a geologist, she is studying the cracks that form in the seafloor along the mid-ocean ridge. As a geographer, she is developing software that oceanographers are using to interpret seafloor data.

View full profile …

Lauren Mullineaux

Lauren Mullineaux’s research group studies a side of benthic organisms (animals that live on the seafloor) that until recently has received little attention.

View full profile …

Jo Griffith
  • Jo Griffith
  • Principal Illustrator, Scientific and Oceanographic Data

Technical illustrator Jo Griffith hasn’t picked up a pen in over five years. Instead she uses a variety of computer programs to create graphs, maps, and illustrations for researchers.

View full profile …

Emily Klein

Emily collects rocks from the deep seafloor. The chemicals that make up the rocks provide clues to how the oceanic crust is built.

View full profile …

Wen-lu Zhu
  • Wen-lu Zhu
  • Associate Scientist, Geology and Geophysics

Wen-lu Zhu studies the properties of rocks found deep in the ocean crust by recreating those conditions in the laboratory.

View full profile …

Ashanti Pyrtle

Ashanti Pyrtle studies the fate of radioactive material that enters rivers, lakes, and oceans. She also advises minority science students on how to navigate through graduate school and prepare for a career afterwards.

View full profile …

Debby Ramsey

As Third Engineer onboard the Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson, Debby Ramsey helps keep all of the equipment that has moving parts running smoothly.

View full profile …

Maya Tolstoy

Marine seismologist Maya Tolstoy helps find active volcanoes on the seafloor by listening for their eruptions.

View full profile …

Rose Dufour
  • Rose Dufour
  • Ship Scheduler and Clearance Officer, Ship Operations and Marine Technical Support

Rose Dufour and her job-share partner Elizabeth Brenner create the schedules for four research ships. The challenge is to keep the scientists, funding agencies, and foreign governments happy.

View full profile …

Claudia Benitez-Nelson

Claudia Benitez-Nelson uses radioactive isotopes to study the complex world of nutrient cycling in the oceans.

View full profile …

Kathryn Kelly

Kathryn Kelly studies how changing ocean currents affect the climate. And she does all of her research from the comfort of her office.

View full profile …

Kathryn Gillis

Kathryn Gillis dives to rifts in the seafloor that are as deep as six kilometers to learn about the processes taking place within the ocean crust.

View full profile …

Margaret Leinen

As a scientist, Margaret Leinen studied sediments that have accumulated on the ocean floor. Now as the Assistant Director of Geosciences at the National Science Foundation, she oversees programs in Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean, and Environmental Sciences. She is also working on initiatives to bring more women and minorities into these fields.

View full profile …