Chris Pickens was a 2012 Hollings Scholar and graduated with a double major in biology and geology from Oberlin College. As a Hollings Scholar, Chris interned with the phytoplankton monitoring program at the NOAA Kachemak Bay Laboratory in Seldovia, Alaska, under Kris Holdereid. He spent many days out on small boats doing phytoplankton tows, CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) casts and water sampling in the Gulf of Alaska to investigate seasonal and inter-annual patterns in phytoplankton growth related to ocean chemistry. Chris enjoyed working on a hands-on project that required significant time in the field and was determined to pursue a career with NOAA after the 2012 summer internship. He learned about opportunities with the NOAA Corps during a presentation by a recruiter at Hollings orientation. Following his growing interest in field work and ambition to be a NOAA diver, he applied and was selected for the NOAA Corps.
Chris participated in the 124th class BOTC (Basic Officer) Training at the Coast Guard Academy, and his first assignment was in Charleston, SC, aboard the NOAA Nancy Foster, which facilitates monitoring of National Marine Sanctuaries, habitat characterization, oceanographic monitoring and coral reef monitoring in the Caribbean. Chris is the newest junior officer on the NOAA Nancy Foster and spent the winter months learning emergency procedures and training for the upcoming field season. During Chris’s first field season as a NOAA Corps Officer, he hopes to apply his scientific education in the field and become confident in facilitating all kinds of scientific research projects. Christopher hopes to build a fulfilling career with the NOAA Corps and eventually pursue his PhD in science.