Hmong (Asian American)
California Science Center
Year zoo career began:
Albert Chang is an aquarist at the California Science Center where he oversees the primary husbandry care of the facility’s largest marine exhibit: a 188,000 gallon closed-system showcasing a southern Californian kelp forest. The exhibit has live kelp and a diverse host of animals including giant sea basses, sharks and rays, and rockfish. Albert also provides care to a smaller exhibit, a freshwater river tank, which features local and native freshwater species such as the endangered Santa Ana Sucker. His day-to-day duties consist mainly of preparing food, aquarium maintenance, and educating guests. Albert also takes on larger projects that can include redesigning an exhibit, upkeeping the frozen food inventory, and working on animal training and enrichment.
Born to immigrant parents from Laos, Albert grew up in southern California and instantly connected with the ocean. Albert graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. While studying for his degree he spent a semester studying at the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island that would change his life: he learned how to scuba dive and became an AAUS Scientific Diver, conducted field surveys, connected scientific concepts to communities, and developed profound love for our underwater world. Following graduation, Albert worked as a part-time research diver for the Vantuna Research Group of Occidental College and volunteered at the California Science Center as a dive volunteer, which led to a part time position in 2017 and then his current position beginning in 2018.
Albert’s favorite part of his job is working with the animals intimately. He gets to train giant sea basses, which is very unique! He recommends that aspiring aquarists volunteer and intern, as these opportunities allow you to learn and gain experience while making valuable connections. He also advises that you get your scuba license and look into getting your rescue certification and AAUS scientific license- both of these certifications show that you have the discipline, experience, and knowledge that places you at a higher caliber than other divers/aquarists.