To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked women throughout NOAA Research who make lasting impacts in scientific research, leadership, and support from the field to the office to share how their work contributes to NOAA’s mission of Climate Resilience and preparing for a Climate-Ready Nation. This article highlights an interview with Kaity Goldsmith, Intramural Program Specialist in NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program. Kaity strategically engages across NOAA offices to coordinate and fund ocean and coastal acidification research to better prepare society to respond to changing ocean conditions.
Our conversation follows:
What does climate resilience or climate-ready nation mean to you? What would you want people to know about NOAA’s work on climate resilience?
Ocean acidification is a fundamental change in the chemistry of the ocean caused by the ocean absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is caused by the same forces that drive climate change and the mitigation and adaptation mechanisms are in line with creating a more climate ready nation.
By engaging in ocean acidification research, NOAA promotes an understanding of the possible future conditions and helps communities prepare for those potential realities. I think of it as turning the headlights on in a car so the driver can see down the road and prepare accordingly. By researching the potential impacts of ocean acidification, as well as identifying scientifically sound approaches to dealing with those impacts, the nation has options and time to take climate resilience actions.
What drew you to the field?
Like so many 19-year olds, I was searching for what my slice in this world could be as I worked towards my bachelor’s degree in Business Management. Sitting in my business classes, I couldn’t find a clear career path that suited me. On a whim one day, I applied to volunteer for an environmental NGO to give back in some small way to the environment that gave me so much solace and peace of mind. In volunteering, I realized the plethora of ways I never knew existed that I could have a career in the natural environment. That realization was an avalanche moment in my life that led me on an incredible path towards working in a field I love.
I dedicated my undergraduate honors thesis to environmental conservation and then spent some time in the solar industry and working on trail crews afterward. I continued my education with a Master’s of Environmental Management with a focus on marine and coastal ecology and policy. As a graduate student, I was fortunate to receive an Oregon Sea Grant scholarship, followed by an Oregon Sea Grant fellowship in the Oregon Governor’s Office of Natural Resources upon graduation. Ocean acidification was one of the emerging environmental and social challenges for Oregon and the governor’s office at the time. This work, along with positions with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council for the Ocean (MARCO) followed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)’s Marine team led me to NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My role in funding ocean acidification researchers allows me to combine my background in both business management and marine science to create avenues for efficiency and effectiveness. This unique background allows me to ensure that we support researchers in their important work and to execute the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program’s mission. I feel very fortunate to be able to play this important role in climate resilience.
I also enjoy working in a field that is ever evolving with so much new information to digest on a regular basis. There is never a dull moment on the job when you are constantly learning, particularly in the ocean acidification world full of passionate people dealing with a complex and complicated challenge.
How can women make a difference by working in STEM fields, especially with regard to climate change?
I think that women in STEM have a real opportunity for using interdisciplinary thinking and connecting the research to human community impacts and ways to adapt. This can lead to important innovations in a field that requires new and complex solutions to complicated problems. Multiple studies demonstrate how participation by women in climate careers and the climate conversation leads to more effective and equitable policies and actions. Women in STEM have this opportunity to meet the challenges and inequities in climate resilience. Exploring new avenues, volunteering, and talking to people with diverse expertise can all lead to new possibilities, much like my NGO volunteer work years ago.
Special thanks to Kaity Goldsmith for participating in this interview for Women’s History Month at NOAA.