Contact: Shelley Dawicki
Faces of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center
We continue our series to introduce the people who work at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). Each month we feature a new "face" from the Center's five laboratories and share with you a bit about who they are, what they do at the Center, and what they enjoy doing in their spare time.
Amanda Plantamura: Administrative Specialist
Where did you grow up?
I have lived on the Jersey Shore my entire life. I was born in Red Bank, New Jersey, and spent the majority of my childhood in Brick. I currently live in Middletown with my husband, Pete, and our three daughters, Abigail, Lillian and Julia. We have been there for almost 12 years.
Where did you go to school and what did you get your degree(s) in?
After graduating from high School in Brick, I went to Ocean County College for about a year and a half. I then took some time off from school to take a position working in downtown Manhattan for the Center for Maritime Education. This position literally took over my life. It was fast-paced and involved a lot of traveling, so for the next four years going back to school was put on the back burner. I do regret not finishing school and getting a degree, but I think the experience I gained working in such a dynamic environment continues to help me on a daily basis. I’ll go back some day…
Tell us a little about how you came to work at the NEFSC.
After I left my position at the Center for Maritime Education (the commute to New York City everyday was too much) I started working at the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, which happens to be next-door to the NOAA lab on Sandy Hook. Formally called the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory, the NOAA lab is part of the NEFSC and is often just referred to as the Sandy Hook Lab. While working at the consortium I met staff working at NOAA and learned about a contractor position opening up at the Sandy Hook Lab from my then boyfriend, Pete (who is also a NEFSC employee). I applied, and in 2008 started working as the administrative support assistant in the Behavioral Ecology Branch, now known as the Fisheries Ecology Branch (FEB), for Beth Phelan. I was a contractor for about a year, then applied for a federal position in administration supporting several branches. I was promoted to my current position in 2015 as the administrative specialist working in the Center's Ecosystems and Aquaculture Division at Sandy Hook.
What do you do at the Center?
I primarily support EAD but also the Center's Operations, Management and Information Division and Data Management Systems, as well as staff from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and from Rutgers University who work here at the Lab. I assist the division director, Thomas Noji, and the lab director, Beth Phelan, and help staff with daily administrative tasks such as travel and scheduling, purchasing, and budgets. As a Trusted Agent I process the security paperwork for all new associates and contractors and issue Common Access Cards, or CAC cards. I assist with facilities management, working with the contract maintenance staff and the lab director to ensure staff here have what they need from the facility to perform their research. I am also the property custodian for four custodial areas. In addition, I serve as a member of the NEFSC Communications Committee, and chair the lab's annual public Open House in May to showcase the amazing work our scientists and collaborators do. I also plan and organize our holiday parties and any other social gatherings we have here at the Lab; I think my favorite is our potluck Thanksgiving!
What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy sharing our science and interacting with the public. Nothing amazes me more than meeting a child, or even an adult, who has never been to the beach and explaining to them what NOAA Fisheries does and what we do at the Sandy Hook Lab.
I’ve always had a love for animals and the beach, and working on Sandy Hook is certainly ideal. There is nothing like hearing an osprey chirp outside of my window during the summer, or going for a walk and seeing the seals or other wildlife during the winter. Sandy Hook is truly a special place!
What are some of your hobbies?
My husband and I have three amazing girls ages 8, 6 and 3 and the coolest black lab, Tide, who will be 12 in September. I love hiking and doing anything outdoors, especially with our dog. The beach is my happy place. Before kids you could have found us boating on the Navesink River near Middletown every weekend. Now I try to stay involved in whatever goes on in my daughters' lives. I’m a member of the Parent Faculty Association and chair the elementary school’s fundraiser, field day, and the science enrichment committees. In the spring, fall and even during some winter months, you can usually find me on a soccer field. Any spare time I have is often spent in the company of my family doing whatever life throws our way. I enjoy cooking, trying new recipes, and can make a mean chicken parmesan. Work and family life keeps me very busy, and I like it that way!