Scott Santos

Scott Santos

Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn, University
Assistant Professor
High School Attended
St. Anthony H.S.; Wailuku, HI
College Attended
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Graduate Training
University of New York at Buffalo

Job Description:

I would describe myself as a “jack-of-all-trades” biologist since my interests include population genetics, resource conservation, genomic evolution and symbiosis biology in aquatic (both freshwater and marine) microbes and multi-cellular organisms. To conduct my research, I utilize a variety of molecular/DNA tools and computer-based approaches.

Interest in Field:

I became interested in biology while growing up on the island of Maui. Coming from a family that both hunted and fished gave me exposure to the wide variety of organisms, either native or introduced, found on the islands from a young age.

How did you get there?

I decided to pursue a career in the biological sciences after taking a summer course sponsored by the Waikiki Aquarium as a high school student. That experience was key in my decision that studying and teaching biology was what I wanted to do with my life.

Necessary Qualifications:

The key qualifications necessary for my job are 1) a desire and excitement to learn new things on a daily basis; 2) tenacity to tackle a problem when something proves difficult, and; 3) being organized so that things get done when they need to be. The last point is something that can be learned but the first two are (usually) traits that are inherent to a person.

Rewards of Work:

There are two big rewards that I gain from my work on a daily basis. First is the excitement that comes from analyzing new data and realizing that you are the first person in all of human history to know that information at that exact moment. Second is working with students and witnessing their excitement when they accomplish something significant. I find both priceless.

Relevant Work Experience:

  • Waikiki Aquarium Education Department
  • Post-Doctorial researcher at the University of Arizona

Typical Day:

A typical day (12-18 hours) for me starts around 6:30 am. I usually answer emails, get organized, and maybe do some writing for the first couple of hours. The rest of the day is spent with students, either discussing their research or teaching in a classroom setting. I try to “sneak” in some time to do experiments, but that seems to be getting less frequent. Faculty and committee meetings also are frequent as an assistant professor. At the end of the day, I again spend time answering emails, getting organized, and doing some additional writing. In between all of this, my mind is always thinking of new experiments that we (the students and I) can do to answer questions we are interested in.

Words of Wisdom :

You wish you knew...wish you were told...:

For the above, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to scientific research early in my career. Thus, my best advice for individuals in the process of pursuing an undergraduate degree is to start early and find a laboratory where you can conduct a research project. Not only will you gain experience that will help you in the future with questions like the above, but you will quickly realize if a job in the sciences is what you want to do as a career. I feel that this is a must for anyone considering a career in any field of the sciences.