Quinby, Research Associate
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Helen isnt working, she can be found sailing on Chesapeake Bay
or playing the cello. She also has been known to go on 90-mile canoe
trips. Helen answered these questions in August, 2001.
are you a scientist?
love to solve puzzles. I like solving problems. When I was in school,
I got to develop my own science project and build some equipment. I
found out that I really liked that. Ive had great experiences
learning a lot of different things. Some were "big picture"
projects and others had a narrow, specialized focus.
is a process of looking at a subject to find and identify patterns.
These patterns have a sense of order, and therefore help us comprehend
things. In a way, these patterns in science are like patterns in music.
Bach used math and patterns to develop his music.
patterns help give us a logical way of seeing and anticipating what
will happen. Parents use knowledge of patterns to anticipate their childrens
behavior. For example, a parent is able to know the difference between
a babys "wet diaper cry" and a "hunger cry"
and then take care of the baby. Thats using scientific methods.
We use science all the time to predict things.
skills and qualities are
necessary to be a scientist?
tell students it is important "To know what is possible" (said
by the philosopher Kierkegaard). A scientist doesnt allow herself
to say "this is impossible." Instead, a scientist needs patience
to keep going and going. When things dont go well, a scientist
needs to back up, to stop and think. It is easy to get frustrated, but
you need to think and then to try a new approach.
is important to break down a project or problem into segments. You have
to make a list of priorities, and then just do the first thing on the
list. Dont think about all the other things, just concentrate
on that first thing. It is also really important to have good mathematics
is most enjoyable about your job?
enjoy a project with no time limit. I can sit and mess around with ideas
with no deadlines. I like to solve problems.
frustrations do you face with your job?
Well, in science there are lots of deadlines. Also, when going to sea
on a research cruise, things have to be right. You cant forget
something or miss something, because you cant replace it once
you are at sea. It causes nightmares!!
you go out to make field observations,
what do you plan to do when you arent working?
I am on a cruise, I play the harmonica instead of the cello. I like
to read, especially books about adventure. I liked Sailing Alone
Around the World, by Captain Joshua Slocum. (He was the first person
to sail solo around the world. He did that in 1895 in a 37-foot boat.)
I also enjoyed Endurance, the story of the Antarctica voyage
and rescue of Shackleton and his crew in 1914-1916.
to The Team