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group of scientists on a pier in a marsh on a wet day April Croxton (lower right) on a Connecticut marsh with a group of visiting Korean scientists and Gary Wikfors, a fellow researcher at the NEFSC Milford Laboratory. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries/NEFSC
April Croxton working on samples at a creek April Croxton working at East Creek, Riverhead New York. Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries NEFSC/Shelley Dawicki

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March 8, 2017
Contact: Heather Soulen

Women's History Month 2017

Talking With: April Croxton

“Always remember why you are doing it”

March is Women’s History Month. We’ve asked five trailblazing NEFSC women scientists to share a little about what drew them to science, how they got here, and what advice they might have for the next generation of women scientists. Candid, honest and full of sage advice, find out more each Wednesday in March as we feature their incredible stories.

April Croxton is a research fishery biologist at the NEFSC Milford Laboratory and is currently on detail to the NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture. She studies how marine animals and their immune systems respond to environmental stressors such as poor water quality, pollution, and ocean acidification.

1. What got you interested in science?

Growing up, I was a big fan of nature shows that highlighted marine animals and the marine environment. During this time I was fascinated by dolphins, and can admit that I wanted to “save the dolphins” from pollution and other harm caused by humans. My fascination was your typical "because they were pretty". I thought that they were really cool. I love water so anything relating to water was one of my favorite places to be around, or to watch. I am still a big fan of dolphins and other marine organisms because of their ability to serve as models to demonstrate how a changing environment could impact human life. Remember, dolphins are mammals just like us.

2. When did you know you were going to be a scientist?

I have known that I was destined for a career in marine science since the fourth grade. My parents recognized my interests in this field at a very early age and made sure that I was engaged in marine-focused activities throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years. This included being enrolled in math and science programs during the summer months, and even on Saturday mornings. I also had great science teachers and counselors who made sure that my parents were aware of programs to promote my science learning.

3. What accomplishment is your proudest so far?

I am most proud of having the opportunity to share with people the type of exciting work that I do in this field. It is such a rewarding moment when I take my traveling touch tank to events and see the faces of children and adults when I describe that I am doctor for shellfish and that these animals have an immune system similar to ours. Sometimes it’s as simple as informing a child or an adult that shellfish have blood and that I take their blood and look at it just like when we have our blood taken at the doctors. When that person walks away from me, they are now aware of some of the cool things that shellfish can do. It is a great feeling to inspire others to work in this field.

4. What advice would you give young women about a career in science?

“Always remember why you are doing it.” As a young, female African-American scientist, I have faced many challenges within this field, but my passion for marine and coastal science is what drives me every day. Find that passion within and you will be able to overcome any obstacle that you encounter. Secondly, have fun and enjoy the wonderful experiences that you will have during your journey.

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The Northeast Fisheries Science Center conducts ecosystem-based science supporting stewardship of living marine resources under changing climatic conditions. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public. Join NOAA Fisheries on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

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