Tara Thean is a young adult trying to come up with a better answer to "so what do you want to do with your life?" than "something to do with science." She found her way to Woods Hole through the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Summer Student Fellowship, where she spent nine weeks in 2012 listening to bottlenose dolphin calls and ocean scientists (sometimes simultaneously).
Thean graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with an A.B. in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2013. As an undergraduate, she wrote a senior thesis about bottlenose dolphins and how they learn to communicate with each other, traveling to Sarasota, Fla., to record bottlenose dolphin whistles with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. During a semester abroad at Oxford University, she worked on deep-sea coral genetics and shrimp morphology in the Oxford Ocean Research and Conservation Group and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Studying with and reading the works of John McPhee inspired Thean to write about science, showing her how the natural world can provide material for stories—whether of scientific phenomena, politics, or personalities. She has written online about science for TIME, The New York Times, Climate Central, and Discovery: Research at Princeton magazine, and about other things for the Princeton Alumni Weekly, The Daily Princetonian, AllPrinceton.com, and Cherwell, Oxford's newspaper. You can keep up with her writing at twitter.com/TaraThean. Thean heads to Cambridge University in the fall of 2013 to study biological sciences—specifically, ear bones—at the graduate level, with generous supprt from the John Stanley Gardiner Studentship.
(Photo by John O'Neill)