Women Exploring the Oceans

Our knowledge of Earth and its oceans has been pieced together through the work of many individuals. Increasingly women have made significant contributions to marine science.

In this site we feature the careers of remarkable women in oceanography. Each woman has followed a different path to her career and has gathered unique insights about her profession. Learn how these women are contributing to our understanding and appreciation of the ocean and how they go about their daily work.

More Remarkable Careers

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 …

Maya Tolstoy

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

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Amy Bower
  • Amy Bower
  • Associate Scientist, Physical Oceanography

Amy studies the interactions between ocean currents and climate. These interactions are very complex.

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 …

Claudia Benitez-Nelson

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

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 …

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 …