Love it: 13 answers by a UCSB research biologist

By Patricia Marroquin, Graduate Division Communications Director
Friday, March 04, 2016 5:24 PM

He knows more about the fishes of the Pacific Coast than you’d ever want to know, but he hopes you will want to know. He works in a laboratory called the Love Lab, which describes both his name as well as his interest in fish. And he’s a self-described “one hell of a marine biologist.” The GradPost spent a few minutes recently with Dr. Milton Love, an associate research biologist at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute, to ask him some questions.

It would take more than a few minutes, however, to describe Dr. Love. He has conducted research on the marine fishes of California for more than 40 years and is the author of more than 90 publications on the fishes of the Pacific Coast. He is a science writer and editor; a radio commentator; has worked with Jean-Michel Cousteau Productions; and was even a commercial fisherman in the late 1960s.  

Love is also a proud alumnus of UCSB, having earned three degrees here (BA, Environmental Biology, 1970; MA, Zoology, 1974; and Ph.D., Zoology, 1978).

“I cannot tell you how much I loved graduate school at UCSB,” he said. “I got both a master’s and Ph.D. here and would still be in graduate school 35 years later except the administration said that I had to leave and become an adult.”

Dr. Milton Love and his beloved rockfish.Love was a dedicated and passionate graduate student researcher here. “I was completely immersed in my various research efforts – really, now that I think about it, I had essentially no life other than that, but it was cool because I loved research so very much. I worked on various aspects of the life history of a group of fishes called rockfishes and also documented what was caught on the sportfishing boats that were berthed in Santa Barbara Harbor.”

Our questions to Dr. Love were inspired by a video from the Office of Public Affairs and Communications, “Take Ten With UCSB Associate Research Biologist Milton Love,” which you may view above.

Here, now, are our 13 questions and Love's answers:

1. The Grad Slam (UCSB Graduate Division’s 3-minute graduate student talk competition) or the Grand Slam (Denny’s breakfast)?

Ha. Definitely the Graduate Student Slam – you won't harden every artery you have if you stick to that one.

2. Your most memorable moment in graduate school at UCSB?

Watching the Bank of America burn down during the Isla Vista riots. I thought it would just kind of melt when they shoved the burning dumpster inside, but it just goes to show how little I knew.

3. Your most embarrassing moment in graduate school at UCSB? 

 Sleeping in my major professor's lab in the marine lab during the Isla Vista riots – thinking I was going to protect his library if someone started to burn the place down. I woke up about 3 a.m. and asked myself, "And just how are you going to stop someone armed with a Molotov cocktail?"

4. Your favorite hangout while you were a UCSB grad student?

I more or less lived in my lab. There was a bunsen burner for hot water, a little fridge, and a couch. Now that I think about it, I wonder why I actually had an apartment in IV.

5. Favorite technology?

In general, I try to avoid technology as much as I can. I do like the chocolate roaster that I saw on a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory in Seattle, however.

6. Most unusual fish fact?

The mucous produced by hagfish actually contains little strands like spider web in it, so you can pick up great wads of it at the same time.

 7. Largest fish you’ve ever caught?

A 150-pound bat ray. I released it because bat rays are soooo cute.

8. Most fascinating research you’ve ever done?

Using a two-person submarine to go as deep as 1,200 feet around oil platforms surveying the fishes that live around them. No matter how a person feels about oil development or the oil industry, going around a oil platform – covered in sea life and sometimes harboring hundreds of thousands of fishes – is very, very trippy and much better than working for a living.

9. Favorite quality of the UCSB graduate students you teach? 

These are sharp people – often with very clever minds. It's a real pleasure to hang out with them.

 10. Your best advice to UCSB graduate students?

Don't sweat the little stuff. In fact, now that I think about it, don't even sweat the big stuff. In fact, it would be best if you don't sweat at all – it is so hard on delicate fabrics.

11. Your favorite hobby or pastime?

Writing stuff, like books and humorous commentaries for KPCC-FM. [Dr. Love pointed out that his “latest and greatest book” is out on paperback: “Certainly More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast.” It features 490 species and 688 color images in 672 pages.]

12. Your favorite country you have traveled to (other than the U.S.) and why?

Scotland and environs because: 1) My wife and I are great Robert Burns fans, 2) I love their accents, 3) the best Indian restaurant in the world is on the Shetland Islands, and 4) when they finally get independence they can make up for hundreds of years of being treated like lichens by the English.

13. Plane, train, boat, bus, bicycle, motorcycle, skateboard, Segway, other?

Oh, boats definitely.