Centennial Story 47: Pam (MS, 1994; PhD, 2006) and Greg (PhD, 1990) Jensen

Pam and Greg came to SAFS via two very different routes that converged on crabs. Pam grew up in Nevada and was a biology major at the University of Nevada Reno, with little idea of what she wanted to study in graduate school. Then, in an upper-level invertebrate biology class, the instructor had live marine invertebrates flown in. She was hooked and started looking for schools with marine programs. Greg grew up in Bremerton and was hooked on marine biology at a very young age, exploring local tidepools and learning to scuba dive as soon as he was old enough to take the class.

Pam on shoreline
Pam on shoreline

Pam moved to Washington and volunteered in Robert Paine’s zoology laboratory until deciding to apply to SAFS for graduate school. Shortly after talking with Dave Armstrong about working on crustaceans, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and funding from Exxon for king crab studies became available. A year later, the lawyers struck—all research, including student theses, was to remain under wraps until all lawsuits were settled! Fortunately, Dave convinced Exxon to provide funding to study the reproductive cycle of female Dungeness crab, and Pam did much of her work at the NOAA Mukilteo seawater facility. During her first dissection of a crab, she discovered a new reproductive organ involved with sperm storage, which led to an expansion of her thesis and ultimately to the PhD program. The questions of paternity raised by the discovery of this organ required a molecular biology approach. Fortunately, around that time SAFS hired Paul Bentzen, and what was to become the Marine Molecular Biotechnology Lab (MMBL)—the combined molecular lab of Paul, and Ginger Armbrust and Gabrielle Rocap (both UW Oceanography)—began to form. Pam completed her dissertation with Paul while also serving as the manager of MMBL, preparing her very well for a position at the AFSC in Frank Morado (MS, 1982; PhD, 1993) ’s lab to bring a molecular component to his pathobiology research group.

Greg Jensen
Greg Jensen

After completing his undergraduate degree in the UW’s Zoology department, Greg did seasonal work for NOAA and the International Pacific Halibut Commission. He then worked full time in Dave Armstrong’s “crab lab” on a Pribilof Island king crab study and started graduate school when that funding ended. His doctoral work addressed questions of porcelain crab distribution that had puzzled him since his childhood beach explorations, supporting the unfunded work with TA positions and consulting, and serving as the chief diver/collector for Pam’s project. He taught the shellfish class for many years, and now serves as the Capstone Coordinator for SAFS. In his spare time, he has authored several books on the marine life of the west coast.

There is a strong network of capable scientists at AFSC, many of whom graduated from SAFS. When Pam started at AFSC, she recognized about a third of the names on the office doors as SAFS graduates. Pam, together with fellow MMBLers Mike Canino (PhD, 2003), Rolf Ream (PhD, 2002), Bobette Dickerson (PhD, 2003), and Ingrid Spies (MS, 2002; PhD QERM, 2014), created a molecular group at AFSC. The skills she learned at SAFS and the people she met continue to aid her every day in her career.

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