Matt Wandell


Matt has been an avid reef aquarium hobbyist since 1999.  After realizing that he didn’t want to be a bartender for the rest of his life, he earned his degree in Marine Biology at UC Davis in 2004 with a solid 8 year graduation plan.  In 2007 he was able to land a job as a biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and has felt like an impostor ever since.  This is reinforced by his boss often telling everyone that he was “hired solely for his height”, due to his freakish 6’9” frame.  Despite missing out on the opportunity to be an NBA star, he has achieved some better-than-average results in his public aquarium career, such as being the first to captive breed the pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti.  He is interested in oddball fish that nobody else really cares about, and figuring out what those fish are thinking and how best to create a controlled environment that keeps them thriving.  One of his ongoing projects is the development of submersible hyperbaric chambers to decompress fish that are collected from 300-500 feet deep, also known as the “Twilight Zone”.  In his free time he enjoys traveling around the world to scuba dive on coral reefs, and is usually pretty good natured about the locals asking him how tall he is every 5 minutes.

Topic: Pushing the Boundaries