World Oceans Day Q&A with Veterinarian Meghana Parikh
In celebration of World Oceans Day, we caught up with Research Veterinary Medical Officer for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Meghana Parikh, VMD, MPH, to learn about her career in aquatic animal medicine and how veterinarians can help preserve ocean health.
How did you become interested in working with ocean health as a veterinarian?
As a kid, I was always fascinated with sea creatures. I loved reading about the unique features and adaptations that enabled them to live life under water. Throughout my undergraduate and veterinary education, I carried this special interest in aquatics with me, and at the same time, I was exploring environmental health and ecology.
I became passionate about working towards a healthy planet and sustainable future, and I planned to do this with a career in marine animal medicine. While my “dream job” has been reimagined through the years, my belief has stayed the same: As a veterinarian, my emphasis on aquatic animal health can support resilient ecosystems needed for healthy oceans and coastal economies.
Tell us about what you do in your current role.
I am a Research Veterinary Medical Officer for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center. My job is to provide scientific support surrounding animal health and disease issues in marine aquaculture. More specifically, I am studying the epidemiology of diseases that are concerning to U.S. shellfish farmers. I intend for my research to support sustainable shellfish aquaculture in the face of rapid environmental change.
What can the average veterinarian do to help preserve ocean health?
Outside of pursuing a career in aquatic animal medicine, there are many things we can all do to preserve ocean health. In the clinic, veterinarians can educate clients on maintaining healthy aquaria and ponds.
More veterinarians are also providing clinical services for aquatic pets. (Check out organizations such the American Association of Fish Veterinarians for some great resources.) Helping clients better understand and care for their aquatic animals helps to foster respect for aquatic animals and their environments.
Veterinarians can also take simple steps in the home and office to protect our oceans by reducing plastic use, recycling, using sustainable landscaping techniques to reduce fertilizer and surface water runoff, and much more. Together, our collective choices can make a difference.
What advice do you have for others looking to work in this type of position?
My advice is to remember that there are many ways to get to the same destination. There isn’t one linear path to a career in this field. I think it’s a good idea to talk to make connections with as many people as possible; find out what they are doing, how they got there, and what skills they need to do their jobs.
Once you have an idea of where you want to go, focus on developing those skills you’ve identified instead of chasing specific experiences. Your journey may eventually look different than someone else’s, but you can still end up in the same place.