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
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, Wired.com, and community newspapers.