(photo credit: Frank Xavier)
I am an oceanographer from Queens, NY. Upon finishing college, I realized I had developed an intense fear of waves (cymophobia) from my upbringing that I hoped to cure by living on research ships. Thus, I commenced a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. There, I researched how particles of organic carbon in the Southern Ocean and Amazon River Basin transfer carbon from the atmosphere to longer-term reservoirs in the deep ocean. My thesis served a deeper interest – perhaps deeper than my cymophobia – in climate change and the ocean’s role in global climate. Going forward, I hope that my training in research and science education equips me to address the social impacts of climate change by helping communities plan for it, and by encouraging people from diverse backgrounds – all backgrounds – to participate in the solution process.
Now, as a postdoctoral fellow at University of British Columbia (Ocean Leaders program), I study the phytoplankton communities the Subarctic North Pacific Ocean and their impact on important fisheries in western Canada. I gather information on phytoplankton populations in this region using observations of light at the ocean surface, which is influenced by the cells (of living phytoplankton, for example) interacting with sunlight in seawater. These optical data, captured by sensors mounted onto research ships and satellites orbiting the planet, have allowed me to monitor numbers and types of phytoplankton over space and time and in different climate conditions. Working with the Canadian fisheries department, I aim to incorporate these phytoplankton time-series into models that predict sockeye salmon stocks in British Columbia. I also hope to take advantage the visual nature of my data sets to explore creative ways to share the data with the public as a teaching tool.
Enjoy my blog! Originally, I created it so that my family could monitor my wave therapy, and be sure that I had survived it. Now, it has grown into a space for me to practice writing and hopefully reach out to broader audiences about the type of work oceanographers do in the U.S., Canada and Brazil.
My next project in science communication is Snapchat. Add me, mgentasnakgrl88, to see my stories about water and the ocean!