Alumni Profiles

Amazing Places
For marine biologist Julie Barber '99, work is a series of dream jobs

Bookmark and Share
Easy to print version

Jay Dimond

As a young girl, Julie Barber '99 dreamed of diving in the Antarctic, below sheets of sea ice that can be as thick as 18 feet—in the springtime, before the plankton begins to bloom, when the water is as clear as gin.

It's a dream Barber first imagined during annual vacations on Cape Cod, where she developed a passion for whales, a dream that grew as she began attending science camps every summer. And then, in 2012, one that came true when, as a marine biologist, she spent three months in the polar region working on an underwater project, diving in those crystal clear waters.

"Anyone who does work in cold water dreams of Antarctica," says Barber, who graduated from UNH in 1999 with a degree in marine and freshwater biology. "It's like Mecca."

Barber has made a career of studying marine life. She worked in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park as a diver on an underwater research project, learning about the effects of sea otter foraging on the ecology of hard-and soft-bottom habitats. In Glacier Bay, she also researched the Dungeness crab fishery while pursuing a master's degree.

Kevin O'Connor
UNDER THE ICE: Julie Barber '99, diving in Antarctica.

Her job in Boston Harbor as a marine ecologist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries involved figuring out the best site for an artificial reef and then developing an ecological monitoring program for it as well as for a nearby natural rocky reef. When the three-year project ended, Barber and her marine biologist husband, Jay Dimond, spent 13 months traveling in New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Africa. During the entire trip, Barber says, they grabbed every opportunity to explore and dive and learn more about the local ecosystems. "As scientists, you just want to get in there," she notes.

Then, when Dimond landed a job in Washington, Barber found a position as a shellfish biologist for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in La Conner, Wash. Native Americans there have fishing rights, granted in treaties dating back to the 1800s, that entitle them to 50 percent of the catch. Barber works in the Swinomish Fisheries Department, helping to design practices that keep the stocks healthy and thriving. She also helps manage the fisheries with other tribes and state officials, a complicated job but one she relishes. "It's so great that the tribes have these rights," Barber says.

"My career has taken me to the most amazing places," she adds. "Glacier Bay National Park is the most special place in the world—just stunning. On days off, I'd go kayaking for days around glaciers. Days on, I'd get paid to dive. I'd say all of my jobs have been dream jobs. But I'm really happy with what I've got now."

 Easy to print version

Return to Alumni Profiles

blog comments powered by Disqus