Third Thursday Interview: Cordie Goodrich

Hello, and happy Thursday everyone! We are so excited to introduce our newest series – Third Thursdays! On the third Thursday of every month, we will be profiling someone in the sciences that inspires us. We believe that everyone has a story, and we can all learn something from each person. Throughout our careers and lives, we have been fortunate to meet people from varied backgrounds and walks of life. Through this blog, we hope to share their stories….to inspire and motivate you, to entertain you, and to make learning about science easy, accessible, and fun! We hope you enjoy our newest series, and without further ado….I introduce to you all, Cordie Goodrich!

I first met Cordie last year when we were in a mutual friend’s wedding together. Cordie is one of those people you meet and instantly like – she is witty, kind, charismatic….I could go on and on! When I began brainstorming a list of rockstars for our Third Thursday series, several people came to mind and Cordie was among them. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what she did…but she’s been to Antarctica and her Instagram stories of “work” frequently showed her jetting around on a boat in Bermuda. So basically, living her best life while working, and if there was ever a candidate for a Third Thursday interview, Cordie was it!

I think one of my favorite things about Cordie’s career is that this was never her plan, but she took chances and said yes to opportunities that were presented to her…even if they were a little scary….or a lot different than what she thought she might be doing! For example, Cordie graduated college with a master’s degree in math and a minor in computer science, with plans to pursue a career in epidemiology. She decided to do an internship with the University of Delaware – College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment processing sediment cores because it was close to home. Through that experience, she made connections and was invited to Lake Tahoe | UC Davis to study limnology (the study of lakes and other bodies of fresh water) and earn a master’s degree.

By saying yes to one internship outside her original plan, she’d ended up in across the country studying turbulence in lakes! Cordie credits the program at Lake Tahoe | UC Davis with one of the coolest experiences she’s had thus far in her career. She traveled to Antarctica and cruised for 6-7 weeks deploying gliders and studying zooplankton (stay tuned, published paper coming soon!) What an exciting opportunity to see a part of the world so few get to see AND get to do science there!!

From cold Antarctica to the sunny sands of Bermuda! Cordie began working with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS) last year as a Glider Specialist where she manages the robotics lab. BIOS has had a glider program for five years, and she is currently working on a project that is funded by a two year grant from NSF where they deploy gliders 50 miles south of Bermuda into the open ocean. BIOS has three gliders that they manage and track at all times. These gliders are basically underwater robots that help scientists discover the ocean, and they are very special to the scientists down in Bermuda…for good reason though, as the scientists there basically have to “babysit” the gliders at all times. The gliders (Jack, Minnie, and Frankie….when you’re responsible for watching something 24/7, you get attached and they need names!) are deployed two at a time. In general, she tries to keep a 9-5 schedule, but if the glider has a problem at 2 AM…she’s up at 2 AM troubleshooting (basically a glider Mama!)

When the scientists are deploying a glider, they are away at sea for a week each month with limited WiFi. The rest of the time, they are preparing a glider to be deployed which is a long process calculating the exact buoyancy. Ballasting them involves putting them in a tank of water, which is no easy tasks as these gliders are nearly five feet long and around 160 pounds! The Slocum gliders measure several parameters and are very efficient so that they can be out for a long time; they have a three month life span before needing to be recharged. Some of the parameters they measure include how much CO2 is begin pulled from the atmosphere, oxygen levels, light levels, nitrate sensors (which tells them how many nutrients are there), and small-scale turbulence – among multiple other things!

What does Cordie love most about her job? Probably everything! She loves having a boss who is a strong, female leader. She really enjoying having equal time doing “hands on” things, as well as the time where she gets to see the data coming and time where she can problem solve (as a math major, of course she loves solving problems!)…and of course, spending time on the ocean is just an extra bonus! For her position, Cordie does a lot of coding and processing the data with glider-specific programs, as well as Matlab or R. When she’s not working, Cordie loves being active…working out, running, paddle boarding (especially in Bermuda where turtles are everywhere!), rock climbing, swimming, snorkeling, and free-diving!

My favorite questions to ask in these interviews are 1) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten, and 2) If a kid walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be? For question 2, Cordie split her answer into two parts, which I thought was great! She would tell younger kids to study the ocean, and she would tell those working on their undergraduate or graduate degrees not to be afraid of math and to tune up your coding skills because that’s where the future is headed. “People tend to have this inherent fear of math and models, but it’s actually not that scary!”

And the best piece of advice she has ever gotten? “Don’t give up, don’t underestimate yourself. So many things I’ve done I never planned or imagined I’d be able to do.” Loved this advice because it’s so true. Thank you Cordie!

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