Ben graduated from Occidental College with an undergraduate degree in 2013 majoring in biology with a marine emphasis. Ben is entering his second year of a master’s program in the biology program at Cal Poly Pomona where he continues his focus on marine biology.
After attaining his bachelor’s degree, Ben got a job doing something few people would ever have imagined existed. He worked as a dive technician for the National Parks Service and was tasked with monitoring marine life as part of the Kelp Forest Monitoring Project at Channel Islands National Park. In southern California, many roads for those interested in marine ecology lead through the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI). The institute is a consortium of 23 universities, colleges and foundations whose mission is to foster marine research and education with a focus on understanding and mitigating the impacts of urban areas on the marine environment. Ben’s path too, led to the SCMI and he is currently employed there as a biological science technician.
An opportunity arose for Ben to pursue a master’s degree when his SCMI advisor, Dr. Jeremy Claisse, joined the Department of Biological Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona as an assistant professor. Ben and Dr. Claisse are working on a method to develop aquaculture methods to propagate green abalone, a native species that was once abundant off the shores of southern California. The species is now listed as endangered, having been decimated from over harvesting. Ben said the ultimate goal is to use aquaculture to reintroduce the species to the coast of southern California. Ben felt that conducting this work in collaboration with farms has been a valuaable exercise in balancing theory with practical considerations to make the project commerically viable.