Even as a kid who spent summers flipping horseshoe crabs and inspecting snail eggs on the beach, all she wanted, she says, was “to see these animals living on the seafloor.” In 1989, she earned a Ph.D. in biological oceanography. That year she won a passenger seat in Alvin—and vowed to become a pilot. After nine months studying manuals and schematics, she earned her certification. Most biologists wait years to get a research project written, funded, and green-lit for an Alvin mission. But a pilot can dive every more often. “It was quite a strategic move on her part, and one that took a lot of guts,” says Dan Fornari, a marine geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and a colleague of 30 years.