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I grew up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut, and since an early age I was fascinated by the natural world, especially the ocean. I spent many days wandering the beaches on the edge of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic, collecting seashells and exploring tidepools. When I left for college I wanted to become a marine biologist or more specifically a malacologist (seashell scientist). At Brown I quickly realized that although I loved learning about science, I wasn't cut out for a career in science, mainly because I wasn't very good in the lab, and I didn't particularly enjoy reading or writing scientific research papers. So, after taking a year off and exploring a range of career options, I shifted course turning toward the field of environmental policy, first earning a double-major in biology and environmental studies, then getting a masters degree in environmental management from Yale, and a Ph.D. in environmental policy and planning from MIT, where my dissertation focused on the role of the courts in the cleanup of Boston Harbor.
I have held a variety of jobs, including stints as a fisheries policy analyst at the National Marine Fisheries Service, a program manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an environmental consultant stateside and in London, an American Association for the Advancement of Science writing fellow at Business Week, a curatorial assistant in the Mollusk Department at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, and an intern at the National Wildlife Federation, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the U.S. Senate.
Throughout my career, one thing remained constant-I enjoyed writing and telling stories (in addition to books, I have written more than 60 articles for magazines, newspapers, and professional journals). Around 2002, I told my wife I wanted to be a fulltime writer. After she stopped laughing she said okay, if you can earn a certain amount of money you can quit your day job. It took me another five years to meet that threshold, and now writing is my job. How long my career as a writer is going to last, I don't know; but I hope it lasts forever, and that I keep discovering interesting stories to tell.
20-Ton Canaries: The Great Whales of the North Atlantic (Keynote)
as author at MIT World Series: 2008 MIT Sea Grant Lecture and Symposium,
together with: Michael Moore,