Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Current Job Title: Graduate Student Researcher
Work Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
Job Description: I am investigating the role of phytoplankton community structure in determining the magnitude of carbon export flux from the surface ocean through a combination of methods. Specifically, I'm interested in satellite remote sensing as a tool for learning more about the surface biological communities in the ocean. Satellites offer us so much because they can cover more ocean in significantly less time than ships. I also conduct field work to supplement the satellite data, and I most recently returned from a research cruise to the South Pacific.
Company, Academic Institution, Government Agency or Non-profit affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara
Highest Degree Level Achieved: and Area of Study: Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences With honors and research distinction
What do you love most about your career?
I love the challenges the questions pose (which is inherent in all problem solving and certainly the science fields) as well as the opportunities for travel to remote locations for study.
What inspired you to pursue a career in marine science or STEM related field?
Seven years ago, I dove into the warm saline waters of the Atlantic for the first time when I traveled to Florida with students from my high school marine biology class to spend a week at MarineLab in Key Largo. One night my classmates and I got into a boat with an instructor and went out to sea, casting a small net behind us. As we slowly cut through the waters, they became illuminated with thousands of bioluminescent plankton. I could not contain my wonder as I witnessed this private light show, thrilled to be among these small but not insignificant organisms. After that, I knew for sure that I wanted to spend a career understanding the beautiful and mysterious intricacies of our ocean.
Describe one of the most exciting moments you’ve experienced in your work.
I always get excited when we find an unusual profile after a CTD cast!
Describe the biggest challenge(s) that you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I encounter challenges on a daily basis, but big challenges come much less often. My biggest one was deciding that a career in marine science is what I wanted to pursue and commit to - my family holds very 'practical' jobs and while it was always a dream for me to become an oceanographer and scientist, I didn't think I was smart enough, experienced enough, etc. Insecurities can plague people and it's important to know when enough is enough! After I convinced myself that I COULD chase after my dreams, I haven't looked back.
Who is your most influential mentor and how did they help you get to where you are today?
I do not have one mentor in particular, but I draw inspiration from many places and people. I'm really close with my brother and sister and they have helped to support me. I also had a phenomenal undergraduate research advisor who really helped me realize my potential and feasibility of my goals.
How do you feel you are making a positive difference in the world?
I study phytoplankton which are very small but important players in the global climate realm, so I tend to think from a bottom-up perspective. In my science life, the work I'm undertaking helps to shed light on processes important for regulating global climate. In my personal life, I take strides to live as mindfully as possible to take care of our environment and pay the positivity forward from friends on out.