June is Ocean Month, and to celebrate STEM Rising is sharing profiles of Energy Department ocean-related career staff. Meet Dorian Overhus. Dorian Overhus is a marine renewable energy research associate for the Coastal Sciences Division of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in Seattle, Washington, and she has been a part of the laboratory since early 2019. Dorian has a strong background in environmental science, wildlife conservation, marine biology, and ocean energy development.
What’s your favorite fact about the ocean?
We know more about the moon’s surface than we know about the deepest parts of our ocean. There’s so much to discover!
What do you do to celebrate Ocean Month?
This year in particular, my team and I celebrated World Oceans Day by releasing the OES-Environmental 2020 State of the Science Report, which we worked on for more than a year. This report is the most up-to-date compilation of research and information available on the environmental effects of marine renewable energy. I’ve also celebrated Ocean Month by having a few picnics on the beach overlooking the Puget Sound—not quite the ocean, but as close as I can be for now!
What inspired you to work in water power?
I studied environmental science and marine biology throughout college and always had a desire to work in the renewable energy industry. Water power allowed me to use my environmental science and marine biology skills and knowledge to succeed in the marine renewable energy sector.
What do you do in your job?
I work across several scientific disciplines to determine implications of human stressors on marine resources and ecosystem processes, and work with stakeholder groups to ensure that the available scientific information is accessible and available, particularly through Tethys. My recent research has been focused on environmental impacts from the development of wave, tidal, offshore wind, ocean current, and riverine energy installations and the role that these effects could play in the global industry. My other work revolves around the blue economy, including ocean observation and offshore energy to power the maritime industry.
What books or movies about the ocean do you recommend?
I recommend a book titled Where the Sea Breaks Its Back by Corey Ford to anyone who likes to nerd out about Pacific Coast wildlife or likes to read about history. It’s a story about the life of Georg Whilhelm Steller (1709-42), an incredible naturalist and the first person to document the unique wildlife of the Alaskan coast, and Vitus Bering’s last voyage that led to the naming of the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia.
If I were to suggest an ocean movie, I’d definitely recommend Jaws or Finding Nemo.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in ocean-related careers?
The ocean has so much to offer and working in an ocean-related career can be so rewarding. Keep working hard, reach out and network with people already in the ocean industry, and do some research. Look into ocean-related fields that you may not even know exist. When I was an undergraduate student, I didn’t even know marine renewable energy existed—and look where I am now! But most of all, just do what makes you happy.
Read more ocean career profiles and information about STEM at STEM Rising: www.energy.gov/STEM