Malia Chow, Ph.D.

Malia Chow, Ph.D.

Sanctuary Superintendent


NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Maui, HI USA


More than ever, the problems that need to be solved now have to be done with a whole new way of thinking...I'm very optimistic about human ingenuity and the ability to use science to tackle some really important problems.

Videos

Videos

By Roadtrip Nation

Malia Chow, Ph.D.

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InterviewThe Interview
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Function Of NOAAWeb Exclusive
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Defining MomentInterview Excerpt
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Step Back And Put It In A Larger ContextInterview Excerpt
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Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
She grew up in the Hawaiian Islands, but she left to go to college.
She went to college at the University of Washington and got a degree in biology; she thought she wanted to be a doctor.
When she applied to medical schools, counselors looked at all the research she’d done and said, “Why don’t you pursue that?”
She realized they were right; she truly loved doing biological research, so she kept going after it.
Earned her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, then did a few postdoctoral fellowships.
She was studying mammalian systems, but she knew if she wanted to get back to the islands, she had to study marine biology.
She was brought back to Hawaii to set up a research lab studying fish connectivity throughout the islands.
After years of doing research, she realized to be effective, she had to go into policy; now she has a foot in both worlds.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Molecular Biology
University of Washington-Seattle Campus
doctorate
Doctorate
Molecular Biology
University of Pennsylvania
Career

Career

Sanctuary Superintendent

I help to protect humpback whales in the Hawaiian Islands and advocate for conservation policies.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Science
Environment & Nature
Environment & Nature
Problem Solving
Problem Solving

Day to Day

Working out on the water with marine mammals scientists. Learning and sharing research and new information about humpback whales.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

It is important to have hands on experiences doing field work but also understanding the policy and conservation practices of marine mammals.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Pursue mentors and internships in agencies and universities that offer marine mammal programs.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Molecular Biology
doctorate
Doctorate
Molecular Biology
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Why should I care about the ocean? "

I had to understand how science informs decision making and be able to communicate to people how important the ocean is and why we need to preserve it.

Challenges I Overcame

Financial
Financial

I needed to get creative on how to finance my university undergraduate and post graduate work.