Oceanographer: David Karl was on board the
R/V Polar Duke as it took our video crew south to Palmer Station
just before Christmas 1996. He'll be seen deploying sediment traps
during program 1. He wrote this Biography for LFA 2 on his cruise
back north to Chile, and is now back home in Hawaii!
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York
on the shores of polluted Lake Erie. My interest in science was
sparked by my desire to do something to protect the environment
and I thought that I would eventually enter the field of wildlife
biology. I attended a public high school and received a good
education, but in retrospect had only three meaningful courses
during those 4 years: Latin, Chemistry and Algebra. My performance
in high school was less than my potential, especially by comparison
to my academically talented siblings. When I was 17 years old
I saw the ocean for the first time and knew at that moment that
I would make a career in oceanography. Everything from that time
was focused on achieving that goal.
I enrolled at the State University College
at Buffalo and majored in biology, although the chemistry courses
-- especially the labs -- were the most enjoyable. I had an opportunity
to meet and work with several professors who provided the momentum
and the focus to keep going. I graduated in 3 1/2 years and decided
to teach high school before going on to graduate studies. I was
placed into an inner city, vocational training school to teach
math. My class was not well liked, although the experience --
in retrospect -- was quite valuable. The following fall, I left
Buffalo for sunny Florida and the official start of my new career
in oceanography as a graduate student at the Florida State University.
In less than three months I was on my first
research cruise aboard R/V Eastward in the Cariaco Trench off
Venezuela. This was a most remarkable experience for me and since
that time I have spent more than three years at sea aboard numerous
vessels in diverse habitats ranging from the Black Sea to the
Amazon River to Antarctica. During my tenure at Florida State,
I had an opportunity to spend a summer at the Marine Biological
Laboratory in Woods Hole studying marine microbiology. It was
there that I made lasting friendships and professional connections
that would later be invaluable to me in my own career.
After graduating from Florida State University
in 1973, I was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Scripps Institution
of Oceanography. I had the good fortune to receive a graduate
assistantship in the Food Chain Research Group of the Institute
of Marine Resources and to become involved in many diverse research
projects, including the Ross Ice Shelf Project (RISP) in Antarctica.
I travelled to the ice in 1976-7 and 1977-8 austral summers to
participate in this project. Since that time, I have been back
to Antarctica twenty times to conduct research on various aspects
of marine ecology.
Following my graduation from Scripps I accepted
a faculty position at the University of Hawaii where I have been
since 1978. Shortly after my arrival in Hawaii, I had the opportunity
to become involved in the study of deep sea hydrothermal vents
that had just been discovered on the seafloor off the Galapagos
Islands. I wrote a grant proposal and was funded to participate
in the first biological expedition to the vents.
Since that first submersible dive in 1978,
I have logged more than 100 hours in the deep sea. In 1996, I
edited a volume on the "Microbiology of Deep Sea Hydrothermal
Vents" which summarizes the nearly two decades of discovery
of these unique marine ecosystems.
I am currently a Professor of Oceanography
at the University of Hawaii, where I enjoy teaching graduate courses
and conducting research. When I am not working in the field or
in the classroom, I relax by riding my Harley-Davidson motorcycle
or by kayaking in the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. My career
in science has been both rewarding and exciting. I cannot imagine
doing anything else, and I cannot imagine having a "real" job.
Additional materials, including a full "professional"
vita (and list of 150 scientific publications) is available electronically
on the WWW: