Kelton L. Clark (2009)

From a “Focus on Ecologists” maintained by the ESA Education Office about 2009-2011.


Full Name Kelton L. Clark
Degree PhD
Job Position Director
Organization Morgan State University
Department Estuarine Research Center
Professional Affiliation Academic
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.



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