The Team

Ship Location

Cascadia Margin, USA

Mary Nichols

Photo of Mary Nichols
Video Engineer
Professor Emeritus
Middle Tennessee State University

Tell us about your work/ research. What kinds of things do you do? 

I am currently retired after 30 years teaching and working in the Communication industry, although I often freelance on documentary projects and video engineering. My video work on the Nautilus provides me an opportunity to stay current on new technologies and follow the work of many different scientists. My retirement allows a great deal of time for travel and the personal study of world cultures.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My career in video production and engineering was sparked in college as I pursued a degree in journalism. I found the pursuit of the perfect image to be a lifelong goal. My video work with the sciences has been the most fulfilling because seeing the images returned from the bottom of the ocean has been an incredible part of my career. I have often seen objects through the Herc camera lens that haven't been seen by human eyes for over a thousand years. I've seen life forms never before seen by scientists. How could I not find this career fascinating?

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My parents were hard-working people who never went to college. They were determined that my siblings and I would have that opportunity and we were raised knowing we could succeed at whatever we chose to do.

What element of your work/ study do you think is the most fascinating?

I love operating the cameras on the ROV's on the ships we find on the ocean floor. It is fascinating to see the corals, fish and other living things that have made the wreckage their home.  

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?  

I met someone involved in the program though professional networking. Networking is a very important part of professional development and has been a source of staffing for many positions. I've been working on Dr. Ballard's research vessels since 2005.

What other jobs led you to your current career? 

I've been involved in video production for over 30 years. I've been a part of the incredible changes in the technology over the years and did everything possible to stay current with the rapid changes. Even while teaching I took every opportunity to continue working in the field rather than just the classroom.  

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication -- Clarion State College 1983; Master of Science in Mass Communication -- Clarion University of PA 1984;
Ph.D in Mass Communication Research -- University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 1993.

What are your hobbies?

Since retiring, I am on a quest to visit and photograph every National Park in the US. I also try to take an international trip each year, most recently to China. When I'm home, I spend my time woodworking in my shop, making furniture and other projects.   

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?  

Video production and engineering begin with a love of composition and imagery. Look at the visuals surrounding you every day and begin documenting them. Learn about the technology used to gather images and spend time with those who know the business. Curiosity and a love of discovery will always lead you toward success in this field.




"Since I retired from Middle Tennessee State University I've been doing a lot of traveling and look forward to another great series of expeditions with the EV Nautilus in 2016. It's exciting to see what's under the earth's oceans!"