Deborah Steinberg

Polar Scientist in the Spotlight

Learn about all sorts of careers that polar scientists have as we explore their different research areas through the featured Polar Scientist of the Month.

Deborah Steinberg

Biological Oceanographer, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

What do you do?

For Science: I am a biological oceanographer studying the small drifting animals of the sea- the zooplankton, the most numerous animals on our planet. I am interested in how zooplankton are changing with the changing polar climate. I am also a teacher, training new scientists in my field.

Outside of Science: I love to ride my bike, swim in the ocean, take my dog for walks, and to go out to eat and shop! I am happy and busy.


What is the best thing about your job?

I love to be out on the ocean, to travel (especially internationally) to meet and discuss science with my colleagues, and to teach oceanography.

What is the most important tool you use for research?

I do most of my work on large, ocean-going research ships. I use big nets to catch zooplankton, they are like fishing nets but with a much finer mesh (so we can catch zooplankton which are smaller than fish).

Why is what you do important?

Polar zooplankton are at risk of decreasing because their habitat is changing fast with climate warming. Since many fish, whales, and seabirds depend on zooplankton for food, we need to understand these changes so the polar ocean food web stays healthy for years to come.

Polar ICE