By Lauren Mackey
As a two-time Gator graduate, it was only fitting that Michael Sipos, 28, returned to the University of Florida as the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Agent. Michael received his Bachelor of Science in Zoology in 2013 and Master of Science in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in 2018. Now he will be creating and delivering educational programs in a variety of mediums using research-based science to address questions from community stakeholders. Much of his efforts will be focused on sustainable fisheries, fisheries enhancement, water quality and environmental literacy. He recently spoke with FSG about his new role.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in aquatic science and when did you know this is what you wanted to do?
A: I decided that I was going to pursue a career in aquatic sciences somewhere in the middle of my undergraduate degree. I chose to complete a minor in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences as some of the courses were in the catalog for my Zoology degree. Those classes were among the most enjoyable and interesting in my college career. The thirst for knowledge in those subject areas came very naturally to me as my passions revolved around the aquatic world. I am an avid scuba diver, fisherman, and spearfisherman, and have been an aquarist since I was a kid, propagating corals and breeding animals in my teens to now. My professors were amazing, as well, and fostered my desire to learn. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Q: How did you get your new role at Florida Sea Grant?
A: After I graduated my master’s program, I was hired by a large water equipment company in their aquaculture division. I was working there for about nine months when the company decided to reevaluate the direction of their business and closed the division. It was perfect timing that this position became funded and especially the location as I grew up in Southwest Florida. Even when I lived hours away, I would frequent this area one or two times a month to enjoy its natural resources.
Q: What most attracted you to working at Florida Sea Grant?
A: What attracted me to this role the most was being able to make a difference in the area that I am from. I value my natural resources tremendously and hope to spread that sentiment to the participants in my program. I was also attracted to working with and learning from the experts at the University of Florida. Having spent time at the university, I am well aware of the talent this institution has and enjoy collaborating and continuously learning.
Q: What are you most excited about in your new role?
A: I’m excited to share my knowledge and hopefully get the people I talk with excited about aquatic life and their surrounding environment. I’m also excited to be in a position where I may be able to create a positive impact in the area I love.
Q: What advice do you have for college students pursuing careers in aquatic science?
A: Get involved! Ask questions! Network with others to see how your interests and experiences can mutually benefit each other. Read things that interest you, but also look at additional topics that are one degree removed from your expertise to broaden your knowledge base.
Q: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
To learn more about the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Program, visit their Facebook page.