Simon's main responsibility is to find ships to perform oceanographic research for Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory projects.

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What do you do? I’m a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) commissioned officer currently assigned to the role of associate director for operations for the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory). My main responsibility is to find ships to perform oceanographic research for PMEL’s projects. I have been assigned to PMEL since June 2010 and will be reassigned as commanding officer, NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai, in December 2013.

How did you get that job? While on a graduate research project in the Canadian Arctic, I met someone who had a friend that was just becoming a NOAA commissioned officer. It sounded like a great opportunity, so I researched it online and sent in an application. I took an oath of office as a commissioned officer on Feb. 10, 2001.

What’s a typical day like? If I look at my entire career, there really isn’t one. I have found myself diving to install equipment on the bottom of ships, sampling atmospheric conditions in Antarctica, piloting a research trawling ship in the Bering Sea, launching ozonesonde (equipment that measures that amount of ozone in the atmosphere) balloons in American Samoa, and touring ships in Seattle to find the right one to accommodate an ocean-acidification project off the West Coast.

What’s the best part of the job?
The diversity of work and the breadth of knowledge about oceanic and atmospheric research that I have been exposed to. It truly has been amazing.

What surprises people about your job?
Where geographically and intellectually it has taken me, especially given that I grew up in a landlocked area of Pennsylvania barely knowing how to swim.