Sheridan Thompson - Coastal and Environmental Researcher

Sheridan Thompson

Coastal and Environmental Researcher

What is a typical day like for you?

I get up and write my ideas and dreams first thing in the morning. It starts my day right. I am on the computer quite a bit, so I complement this activity with a great deal of trail running, rock climbing and surfing. A huge part of my day as well is hanging out with my two kids who love spending time outdoors with me.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Spending time outside experiencing and observing the environment change.

What is the least enjoyable part of your job?

Meeting deadlines or the expectations of others. Sometimes I have tough time understanding why others need what they need. But part of the work I do is collaboration and that requires a great deal of respect for others without always understanding or seeing things the same way.

Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).

I did not enjoy my BA because it was mostly focused on political and economical approaches to bettering our world. I did, however, enjoy the physical sciences, but didn't believe I was capable of sciences for the longest time. However, I did end up completing a double major in Environmental Sustainability/Geography with a focus on climate and geomorphology.

After my first child was born, I took a random course in Natural Hazards to get myself out of the house, and discovered how fast our coastlines were eroding in the face of changing climate. I was fascinated and after giving birth to my second child went into a Masters in Coastal Geomorphology. Six years later, it still remains to be one of the most fascinating fields of study for me.

Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?

Nature, and its patience.

What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?

Learn to be alone, and observe your environment without trying to come up with the answers. Just sit still and observe what your experience is in a moment.

How does your job make a difference?

My job is not just research, it is being able to share what I learn in the field with others. And helping them to understand and value their observations and experiences whether they are scientifically based or not.

How do you use science, math and technology in your job?

There are higher forms of technology such as Real Time Kinematic GPS that provide very accurate points of location. This can help us understand how fast a coastline is receding over so many years or even just a year. However, equally important are our ground truthing methods. That means being on site and using elementary tools such as Emery Poles to understand changes in beach elevation over the seasons. Visual observations made and recorded through photographs is also very important.

What makes this job right for you?

I believe that magic can be found in the allowance of change. And when we look closely at the natural world around us without judging it or too strictly classifying it, we see can see that magic unfold. This is very inspiring, not just in my research, but in my beliefs that we can make a better world for ourselves.

What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?

Too many to share!

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

Tickling and snuggling my kids, hiking, rock climbing, and surfing. And hearing peoples stories.

You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?

Distribute various amounts to each of those people who believed in me and my dreams.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

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