Malia Chow, Ph.D.

Malia Chow, Ph.D.

Sanctuary Superintendent

NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Maui, HI USA

More than ever, the problems that need to be solved now have to be done with a whole new way of thinking...I'm very optimistic about human ingenuity and the ability to use science to tackle some really important problems.


By Roadtrip Nation

Malia Chow, Ph.D.


My road in life took a while to figure out.
She grew up in the Hawaiian Islands, but she left to go to college.
She went to college at the University of Washington and got a degree in biology; she thought she wanted to be a doctor.
When she applied to medical schools, counselors looked at all the research she’d done and said, “Why don’t you pursue that?”
She realized they were right; she truly loved doing biological research, so she kept going after it.
Earned her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania, then did a few postdoctoral fellowships.
She was studying mammalian systems, but she knew if she wanted to get back to the islands, she had to study marine biology.
She was brought back to Hawaii to set up a research lab studying fish connectivity throughout the islands.
After years of doing research, she realized to be effective, she had to go into policy; now she has a foot in both worlds.
Keep following my journey


Sanctuary Superintendent

I help to protect humpback whales in the Hawaiian Islands and advocate for conservation policies.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Environment & Nature
Problem Solving

Day to Day

Working out on the water with marine mammals scientists. Learning and sharing research and new information about humpback whales.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Pursue mentors and internships in agencies and universities that offer marine mammal programs.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Why should I care about the ocean? "

Challenges I Overcame


Interviewed By

Setting Course

Setting Course

Science, tech, engineering, arts, and math careers in Hawaii