Careers in Ichthyology
Griffin Sheehy - Laboratory Technician
- How did you become interested in ichthyology?
"As a child, I was always fascinated by aquatic animals and spent most of my summer days fishing and exploring local creeks."
- What training and education do you have?
"I have a Bachelors degree in biology from the College of William and Mary. Although my degree was in general biology, I tailored my studies to
include many marine biology classes."
- What personal qualities are important in this field?
"To be involved with field and laboratory research a scientist needs to be dedicated. Sometimes lab work can be time-consuming
and tedious which requires patience. A scientist must be willing to get his or her hands dirty. Many times fieldwork must be
completed under very demanding conditions such as extreme heat or cold, rain and even under water."
- Describe your work and research:
"I work with a group of scientists working with catfish. We are trying to identify all the unknown catfish species in
the world. Working in a museum environment also involves sorting/identifying specimens as well as general collection
- What skills do you use on the job?
"I use many computer skills necessary for entering data, creating databases and searching for information. I need to have
strong communication skills because I interact with scientists from all over the world. I also use scientific literature to
help identify fish specimens."
- What interesting discoveries have you made in your studies?
"I learn more about fishes everyday. My job involves finding catfish that no one has ever discovered before. One day,
those catfish will be published in a field guide to help other students and researchers identify specimens they collect."
- What is your typical work schedule?
"I work from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Occasionally our lab goes on day-long collecting trips where we
visit local streams and lakes to catch fish that will be deposited in our Museum Fish Collection."
- What do you like best about your job?
"Everyday, more and more species of plants and animals disappear from our world forever due, in part, to human influences
such as pollution. My favorite part of my job is knowing that I work in a museum where we inventory as much life on this
planet as possible. In the ichthyology Department we want to preserve as many different fish species as possible so that
future generations will know what animals lived in their local waters. It is wonderful to think that I am helping to raise
conservation awareness and document our precious natural resources before they are gone."
- Does this profession require any travel?
"A career in ichthyology often requires travel to field stations that could be located in foreign countries.
Travel is often to remote areas with few modern conveniences or luxuries. An ichthyologist must be willing to go wherever
the fish he is studying happen to live."
- What is the general salary range for someone in your position?
"Anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 a year."
- How long have you been an ichthyologist?
"I have worked with fish since 2002 but I have worked with aquatic ecosystems since I graduated from college in 2000."
- Is it difficult to find a job in ichthyology?
"Many times it is necessary to relocate to a city or state close to water to find a job. Sometimes it is difficult to find a
job with only a Bachelor's degree. Schooling up to the Master's degree level opens up many more career opportunities. It is
a competitive field requiring hard work but there is no reason anyone couldn't have a successful and rewarding career in
- Have you ever considered a career in a different field?
"I have many interests related to biology and have thought of pursuing them in the past. There is
no way of knowing what the future holds for me but I know that ichthyology will always remain an important part of my life."
- Do you ever go fishing in your free time?
"I rarely go fishing unless I am participating in a research cruise or collecting field trip."