“I Thought I Wanted to Work with Fish”

Andrew Thurber
Andrew Thurber

When Andrew Thurber started his journey in marine biology at Hawaii Pacific University, he got a surprise. “I thought I wanted to work with fish,” he says. “Turns out I don’t.”

Instead, in an Antarctic research lab, he became enamored with worms. “Worms are incredibly diverse. That was one of the most amazing things to me,” he says. “They don’t all look like earthworms. They have feet and these crazy breathing structures. I found them kind of enticing.”

After getting his bachelor’s, Thurber conducted graduate work in Antarctic ecology at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory near Monterey, California. He worked with veteran Antarctic seafloor ecologist Stacy Kim to understand how sea stars and microorganisms decompose sewage waste in the Ross Sea. He received his Ph.D. at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, working on deep-sea habitats fueled by bacteria and archaea.

Thurber’s research has taken him to soft sediments, hydrothermal vents and methane seeps from Costa Rica to New Zealand and Antarctica.

Now a post-doctoral scientist in the Oregon State University College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, he studies the role of a family of worms (Ampharetidae) in the release of methane from the seafloor and the boom-and-bust cycle of productivity in deep-sea ecosystems.

His research in the Antarctic has been supported by the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation.