Brandy Armstrong, Administrative Committee, Student Activities Chair, and Social Media Initiative
I think the most interesting part of my story is how a small-town girl from Ohio become an oceanographer and active OES member. It’s a story full of colorful experiences and mentorship.
I always loved earth science. I chose oceanography for good reason. The ocean was the furthest thing from Ohio, aside from becoming an astronaut, and I was not ready to leave the planet. I joined the Mighty Sound of the Southeast, the University of South Carolina marching band, and captained the color guard team. Maybe you are thinking what does that have to do with anything? This is where mentorship first played a starring role in my life. While I did spend many enjoyable hours practicing and performing with the band, I still made time for practical hands on activities: collecting data with the undergraduate research group, learning instrumentation as a lab technician, running ocean models and working with large data sets.
As an undergraduate I seized upon every opportunity to gain valuable experience and mentorship. I volunteered to collect vibra-cores in swamps and on islands, to collect grab samples off the coast, and collect water samples and ADCP transects in estuaries. I was chosen for a 2-month research expedition to Siberia collecting hydrographic data along the Lena River. I represented an undergraduate research group at multiple conferences and helped pilot and edit an undergraduate research journal. In graduate school I mentored the undergraduates in the research group and also spent a week collecting drifter data along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
After graduating in 2005 with high honors and a master’s in marine science, I did a short stint as island and sea turtle program manager on Pritchards Island, SC. In 2008 I headed to Woods Hole, MA, to join the US Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal Marine Geology Program, where I focused on coupled ocean-atmosphere-wave sediment-transport modeling and field work. During this time, Marinna Martini introduced me to the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.
After several years enjoying the small town atmosphere and social life on the Cape, including living in downtown Falmouth, riding my bike to work along the seashore, coaching the local high school color guard, and being an active member of the Cape Cod Curling Club, I transferred to the USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility in 2014 where I manage the Water Mission Area Hydraulics Laboratory and quality assurance programs for field instrumentation.
My daughter was born in August of 2017. I prefer to spend most of my free time with my husband and daughter, which is why you may have seen them at OCEANS Aberdeen, Anchorage, Kobe and Charleston.
While I am almost always enjoying family time, I use any time I have leftover (and some I pull out of thin air) to focus on sustainability, growing a food forest, advocacy for safer, more sustainable food and personal products, and volunteer work that improves the local community and the world. One of the non-profits I volunteer with, Open Food Network, combines my passion for gardening and local community building.
As an elected OES Administrative Committee member I focus on mentorship and support for women, students and Young Professionals (YP) using social media as a communication tool and an opportunity for involvement. Every day I am inspired by our members’ skill, ingenuity, and passion! As I mentor YP and students from around the world, it is exciting to watch them discover their paths by seizing opportunities, many discovered through IEEE OES. It encourages me to remain alert, so I do not miss the next opportunity on my own path.