Dee Boersma (2009)

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

Full NameDee Boersma
Job PositionWadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science and Professor of Biology
OrganizationUniversity of Washington
DepartmentDept of Biology
Professional AffiliationAcademic
Research DisciplineConservation Biology
Describe what you do and briefly describe the activities that your job encompassesI am interested in using seabirds as reflectors of the environment and for several decades have concentrated my research on penguins. I also founded Conservation Magazine ( to inform and educate the public on the science behind conservation.
What do you love most about your job?The variety of what I get to do and the time I spend in the field among wildlife.
For each degree you’ve obtained, list the degree, field, and institution.BS, Biology and Conservation, Central Michigan University
Ph.D. Zoology, Ohio State University
Briefly describe your job path.I took a tenure track job at the University of Washington and have stayed at this institution for my career.
What challenges did you need to overcome?Sexism
What’s one thing you hope to do in the future?I hope to educate the public and help them see that the quality of our environment depends on what each one of us does. I feel that I can do that through the platform of Conservation Magazine.
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party?I work with penguins.
What is your family background and what did they think of your career choice?My Father owned his own business and was in travel and my Mother was a teacher. They supported my career choice.
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist (or other profession)?I was interested in nature and that interest was fostered by my family.
Who currently inspires you?Nature and wildlife.
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?Find your passion and find a way to do that as a job.
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist (or other profession)?That I helped the conservation of penguins.
How do you feel your work has contributed to society?Education helps people in making better decisions and we must have better decisions if we are to share the earth with other forms of life. Humans have a poor record of restraint in their breeding or consuming. Our research has helped reduce the illegal discharge of petroleum along the coast of Chubut, Argentina.
Award NameHeinz Award
Year originally profiled.2009