Intern Spotlight: Gregory Taylor

By December 14, 2015Ocean Alliance News

Hosting interns at Ocean Alliance is hugely important to us.  The work we do simply could not continue if it weren’t for ensuring we nurture a new crop of next-generation scientists, researchers and engineers into the world each year to solve the pressing challenges faced by our oceans.  So we thought it fitting that each of our interns gets introduced to you and a chance to shine in a spotlight, and as a thanks for all their hard work, with hopefully a bit of a leg-up into their new career.

Name: Gregory Taylor
Studying: Environmental Science
Studying at: Endicott College

What brought you to choose to study this subject?

I chose to study environmental science because I knew it was something that was going to need a lot of attention over the course of my lifetime. Climate change and all of its consequences (ocean acidification, sea level rise, etc.) along with deforestation, CO2 production and many other global environmental issues, all require the attention and responsibility of everyone who lives and breathes on this planet. I wanted to study the environmental sciences so I can help fix the mess we have created because I feel that responsibility is partly mine. It is also a very broad and interdisciplinary field that I am positive I will be able to find a job in where I can help fix the pressing environmental issues of our generation.

What have been your major tasks at Ocean Alliance so far?

Well first, I created a ~10 terabyte library of video data from The Voyage of the Odyssey. I also further developed Ocean Alliance’s internship program by creating formal intern and volunteer applications, as well as created a welcome packet for new interns. I am currently working on expanding Ocean Alliance’s whale adoption program.

What have you most enjoyed about working at Ocean Alliance?

The site. It is so amazing coming into work every day at such an iconic building and being able to see and hear the ocean right under my feet. I also particularly enjoy working with both 7 Seas Whale Watch and Ocean Alliance on their joint summer internship program. Creating the new application and smoothing out the selection process will make things run much smoother next summer.

What’s been your biggest challenge working at Ocean Alliance?

My biggest challenge here was finding the confidence to talk at staff meetings. In the beginning I don’t think I said anything during meetings. Now I have my own speaking time towards the end of the meetings and feel confident enough to throw my two cents in at any point. The team has actually wanted to move forward with a few of my ideas!

What have you learned about yourself and your subjects at Ocean Alliance?

I have learned how important whales are to life on earth. These animals are the sentinels for the oceans. That means that if they are affected by ocean meta-trends like microplastics, pollution, acidification etc, then we can use them as models for the effects owe might see as humans. For example, we share food sources like fish. If the whales are unable to eat because pollution is killing off their prey, then not only will the whales be without fish, but we will be too.

What’s it like working for a non-profit compared to studying?

Working for a non-profit is, in a way, more satisfying than studying. It is more hands on here so for example, I can give myself tasks to work on and when I complete those tasks I feel a sense of immediate reward, whereas at school I may work on things for weeks to months and not get that reward sense at all. Getting an A on a test is great but there are always going to be more tests. Making intern applications, welcome packets and expanding their whale adoption program that can be used for years to come is much more satisfying to me.

What’s your favorite marine mammal – and why?

A humpback whale named Milkweed. On one of my first whale watches this past summer we spotted her and watched her for a long while. At one point I was looking over the starboard side after she went down on a dive and she came up and spy-hopped right in front of my face. It was one of the most surreal feelings I have ever felt. Seeing her (almost) face to face gave me a sense of how big she really was. That moment in time has been fixed in my mind ever since and has been a driving factor in my desire to conserve and educate people about these gentle giants.

What’s your favorite ocean film – and why?

Racing Extinction by Louie Psihoyos. It is one of the most moving documentaries ever created in my opinion. It exposes the illegal endangered wildlife trade in other countries, not only to see how brutal some of the things they do are, but also to offer alternatives. Manta Rays play a huge role in the film. In Indonesia they are the natives’ main source of income (they can dry and sell the gills and dry cartilage to china) Shawn Heinrichs works to get them on the globally endangered list- and succeeds- as well as offers the natives a new perspective on the Manta Ray. He shows the younger generation how beautiful the creatures are and was able to really connect with the kids. The film also brings awareness to anthropogenic climate change and the causes of it. It really is a great film I highly recommend it.

What do you hope to become when you finish your studies?

Well, when I am done studying I will have a B/S in Environmental Science, and am currently applying for an MBA, so hopefully I can find a job somewhere that is focused on helping the environment and that can utilize the skills I have.

What are your hopes for the future as you look at our world today?

We all have to do something. The problems we face aren’t going to be solved by just a few people. We all contribute to the problem so we all need to help fix it. My hopes are that as time progresses, the people who previously denied climate change and every other important environmental issue will change the way they think and really start to see what is wrong and how to fix it. The more people that change and do something the more people will follow it would create a movement, when movements happen, legislation happens, and that is really what we need.