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Juli Berwald

Juli Berwald grew up in St. Louis, 1,000 miles from the nearest ocean. Drawn by an as yet unidentified force, she decreased her distance from the ocean by an order of magnitude, moving to central Massachusetts to attend Amherst College. The pull of the strange force gathered energy and propelled her within feet of the ocean when she took a summer job at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Even though she labored scrubbing laboratory glassware by day and brewing endless pots of coffee for stressed-out graduate students by night, the ocean had her in its grasp and she swore to always be near it.

The Pacific Ocean is more massive than the Atlantic, and its force proportionally stronger, so Berwald moved to its shores for her doctorate degree at the University of Southern California. She studied the interaction of light and plankton and developed mathematical models to calculate photosynthesis in the ocean. Her work took her on research cruises for months at a time, where she blissfully gazed into the ocean’s depths and pondered its mystery.

During her post-doc, Berwald unexpectedly encountered a force stronger than that of the ocean. She fell in love. Using clever salesmanship, her husband assured her that there would be an ocean in Austin, Texas, in just another 50 million years. She broke her promise and moved inland.

While she is waiting for the ocean to arrive, she lives vicariously in the oceanographic research she writes for Oceanus. She fills her time writing science textbooks and publications for the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas and regaling two small children with ocean lore. She also has contributed to Redbook,, and community newspapers.


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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is the world's leading non-profit oceanographic research organization. Our mission is to explore and understand the ocean and to educate scientists, students, decision-makers, and the public.
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