Kelton L. Clark (2009)
From a “Focus on Ecologists” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2009-2011.
|Full Name||Kelton L. Clark|
|Organization||Morgan State University|
|Department||Estuarine Research Center|
|Briefly describe your job path.||My training is in estuarine community ecology. More specifically, I work on how marine communities are structured based on the response to variability, predator–prey dynamics, and habitat availability, etc. structures communities. I taught Ecology at Morgan State University, was a Program Manager for the Smithsonian, and am currently the Director of Morgan State University’s Estuarine Research Center in St. Leonard, MD.|
|Who or what inspired you to become a scientist (or other profession)?||My Aunt Barbara tells me that as a small child I was interested in marine biology.I remember being absorbed in Jacques Cousteau and his adventures that I watched on T.V. However, it was 15 years after high school before I decided I wanted to become a Marine Biologist. I had very little information on what that entailed but my wife and I moved to San Diego because I knew that Scripps was a good school. Fortunately I met Susan Williams, who mentored me through my BS in Biology at San Diego State University.
After graduation I began an internship at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Maryland and remained there as I went on to get a doctorate in Marine Ecology from the University of Maryland at College Park. At SERC, I met another mentor, Anson “Tuck” Hines, who mentored me through graduate school and beyond…As one of a handful of African Americans in the marine sciences, I feel strongly that minority students need avenues opened for them to find out about science careers.
|What is the most valuable advice a mentor gave you or that you would offer to someone who’d like to do the same job as you?||I have said to students in the past I am a marine biologist so I can go outside and play. I have a PhD so that I can do what I want. For me it was a long road from the uncertainty of high school to becoming an intern at SERC, a marine biologist and eventually the director of Morgan State University’s Estuarine Research Center. Along the way I came to believe in the power of mentoring.Surround yourself with positive role models, but take ownership of your own destiny.|