June is Ocean Month, and to celebrate STEM Rising is sharing profiles of Energy Department staff in ocean-related careers. Meet Dana McCoskey.
Dana McCoskey is a Senior Environmental Program Analyst with Allegheny Science and Technology, working in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office. She manages environmental research and technology development projects for the Hydropower and MHK Programs. Current work varies from the development of animal tracking technologies and ocean acoustic and animal monitoring devices, to working with stakeholders towards water and species management goals, to visioning what future water-energy systems could look like. Ms. McCoskey’s background includes 15 years of leading conservation, fish and wildlife monitoring, and field ecology research. She holds degrees in Zoology from Portland State University and Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University.
What’s your favorite fact about the ocean?
Life in the ocean is ancient. For example sharks appear in the fossil record 450 million year ago, this is about 100 million years before the earth had trees!
What do you do to celebrate Ocean Month?
Professionally, I challenge myself to learn new things. Personally, I reflect on how important healthy ocean ecosystems are and celebrate all the inspirational people that are working to better understand the ocean and to protect its life and habitats. This year I will also be thinking a lot about my late colleague Adrian Dahood-Fritz, a marine scientist who worked in Antarctica and with marine protected areas but tragically passed away in the Conception dive boat accident this past September. I want to pay special attention to things she cared for.
What inspired you to work in water power?
I am fascinated by migrations and migratory animals, especially American eels that travel from the Sargasso Sea as drifting larva to eastern North American rivers to grow and then again to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.
My first job out of undergraduate was working as a biologist and vessel captain for a NOAA research project on the Columbia River. We collected data to evaluate management actions at hydropower dams. I spent 11 years in the field conducting ecological research and monitoring threatened and endangered species. My current job was provides a way to use what I learned in the field and through my graduate studies to address national-level challenges. Being one of the first people to see the results of cutting edge science and new discoveries coming out of the national labs is very exciting.
What do you do in your job?
I manage environmental research and technology development projects for the Hydropower and MHK Programs. I work with the National Labs, industry, and academia to identify critical needs for new technologies, to address environmental challenges, and develop innovate approaches and solutions.
What books or movies about the ocean do you recommend?
Book: Under the Sea Wind by Racheal Carson it has a beautifully poetic tone to it. Movies: David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series which I am not embarrassed to say I have watched dozens of times.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in ocean-related careers?
Getting hands on experience with both field and lab research as early as possible will help you. If you like research and discovery, working in an ocean-related field is a good choice. Pursue things you enjoy doing most because if you find something you love to do you will never really work a day in your life.
Read more Ocean Month profiles and get STEM resources on the STEM Rising website.