By Madison Bara, Section Editor
Claire Condie, a natural sciences professor at MCC, has a passion for multiple environmental sciences that encompasses many aspects of her life.
She said she started her journey in the environmental science field at Brookdale Community College, where she majored in marine biology.
“I always wanted to be a marine biologist,” said Condie.
She said that she ended up changing her major, after she took a seven-week geology class to take care of credits.
“I still love the ocean; I still love scuba diving, surfboarding and paddleboarding [as well] but I fell in love with geology during that course, and two weeks into it I decided to change my major to geology,” said Condie.
She said one of her most memorable experiences she had while following her passions was when she was working in Hawaii at a center for active volcanoes.
“I was wearing protective gear sampling lava, and I was in this space on the big island that looked as if [I was] standing on the surface of the moon. The sulfur content was [also] so high on the ground that the bottom of [my] shoes melted,” said Condie.
She said that she thinks her field of science is vital to experience such natural phenomena personally.
“You can see it in a textbook and you can watch it in a video, but when you actually see it, smell it, feel the heat and touch it, it enables you to explain it to others better,” said Condie.
She said she participated in some conferences to present research that she has done in the environmental field, as well.
“My first conference, which was also my most nerve-wracking conference, was in Seattle. I presented my research on volcanoes in El Salvador and Costa Rica, which was for my master’s degree, in front of a few hundred people,” said Condie.
She said she was so nervous that while she was holding the laser pointer her hand was shaking so badly that she thinks she might have temporarily blinded most of the audience with it.
“That was probably not the best way to make a presentation,” said Condie.
She also said she did a lot in the community related to the environmental science field.
“When I came back from Hawaii, I started working for the Monmouth County Health Department in the water pollution program. I also did a lot of work with [the organization] Clean Communities [such as] water sampling for tracking contaminant plumes, and they invited me to be a keynote speaker at a few of their events,” said Condie.
She said she still works with Clean Communities, but is now located in Middlesex County and has started working with the New Jersey Geological Survey agency.
“I’m [also] really enjoying working with other oceanographers through Rutgers collecting interactive ocean data,” said Condie.
“It’s been one of my most favorite educational experiences within the last five years. I’ve been getting to work with some brilliant instructors and having a great collaboration of ideas with them,” Condie said.
She said outside of organizations, she does multiple activities that are centered around her love for the environmental sciences, more specifically oceanography and geology.
“I do a lot of hiking and rock climbing [as well as] surfing and paddleboarding,” said Condie.
She said one of her favorite activities to do every other year is to go stand up paddle boarding around Manhattan.
“It is a 22 mile stand up paddleboard marathon, and we raise money for autism awareness and water quality. I’ve done it five or six times before and they’ve raised somewhere between $15-20,000 throughout the years to support those groups,” said Condie.
She said she really loves that there is a lot of training and technical knowledge that goes into participating in the marathon because she gets to bring what she knows about tides and currents into a sport she loves. As well as spreading awareness of the programs that are represented by the marathon.
“It’s really nice to be able to combine my athletic stuff with my love for science,” said Condie.
She said her next step on her journey is to go diving in the Florida Keys and visit a place where they teach instructors and marine biologists to help rebuild the coral reefs.
“I’ve tried to go the last two years over Christmas break, but the winds have been so bad I haven’t been able to get in the water [while] I am down there, [so] hopefully this summer I will be able to get down there and get trained to do that,” said Condie.
She also said that when she retires she wants to be either a park ranger or one of the whale warriors, who patrol the oceans for poaching.
“When I’m done teaching, those are my next two careers because I want to be able to continue talking about the stuff I love,” said Condie.
Condie said she thinks of science as a treasure chest since the more you learn about science the more beautiful the world becomes.
“I’m fortunate enough to have followed my passion for the sciences that I love, and I hope to continue to share my experiences with others,” said Condie.