Hayley Farr is a post-bachelor’s research associate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Sarah Harman, U.S. Department of Energy

June is Ocean Month, and to celebrate STEM Rising is sharing profiles of Energy Department staff in ocean-related careers. Meet Hayley Farr.

My name is Hayley Farr and I am a post-bachelor’s research associate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Before joining PNNL’s Coastal Sciences Division, I received my bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) and conducted research on the potential environmental effects of floating offshore wind energy.

Hayley Farr is a post-bachelor’s research associate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

What’s your favorite fact about the ocean?

If you were an alien landing on Earth, you would have about a 60 percent chance of landing out of sight of land.

What do you do to celebrate Ocean Month?

I am celebrating Ocean Month by getting out in the water and surfing as much as I can! Not all ocean-related careers involve actually getting to work in the water, so for me, it is really important to get out and enjoy the place I’m working to protect! I am also staying mindful of the resources I use and how I can best minimize my carbon footprint.

What inspired you to work in water power?

When I first learned about marine renewable energy as an undergraduate at Cal Poly, I thought the fact that we can harness renewable energy from the ocean was amazing! As an environmentalist and a surfer, I was also very interested in learning about how these technologies might affect marine and coastal ecosystems. From then on, I wanted the work that I do to help advance the marine renewable energy industry in an environmentally responsible manner.   

What do you do in your job?

I work with an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers on several projects related to offshore wind and marine renewable energy, such as wave and tidal energy. We predominantly engage with researchers, regulators, project developers, and other stakeholders from around the world to better understand the environmental effects of these technologies on marine animals, habitats, and ecosystem processes. In fact, we recently released the most comprehensive international analysis to date on the subject, the OES-Environmental 2020 State of the Science Report. Another big part of what we do is ensuring that the data and information relevant to these technologies are widely available and easily accessible, mainly through the development and curation of Tethys and Tethys Engineering.

What books or movies about the ocean do you recommend?

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey is an excellent book that explores scientists’ efforts to understand the destructive power of waves, from ship-swallowing rogue waves, to tsunamis and the exploits of the extreme surfers attempting to ride them.

Do you have any advice for people who want to work in ocean-related careers?

I highly recommend reaching out to people working in a field or organization that interests you and requesting an informational interview to learn more about that field or organization, what they do, and their career path. I know it can sometimes be uncomfortable to reach out to people you don’t know, but in my experience people are more than happy to reflect on their careers and offer advice. I also recommend volunteering at conferences to learn more about particular areas that interest you, and of course, network! Many conferences offer free registration for students and early career professionals in exchange for a few hours of volunteer work during the event, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a conference organizer!

For more Ocean Month profiles and STEM resources, visit www.energy.gov/STEM