The Team

Ship Location

E Pacific Ocean

Jessica Sandoval

Photo of Jessica Sandoval
Argus Pilot
Independent Contractor
Independent Contractor

Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?

I am a recent graduate from MIT, and there I specialized in instrumentation in biological engineering. This entailed building fluorescent microscopes and particle samplers to trap biotic particles at high altitudes. I enjoy instrumentation because it allows you to peer into a completely different world (whether microscopic or beneath the waves or both!). I am tailoring my instrumentation skills for oceanographic research for my Master’s and PhD.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My obsession with the ocean began when I was young. My family and I would explore local tide pools and I fell in love with the abundant life. I then became fascinated by robotics in high school and soon continued to study at MIT for instrumentation. I now aim to combine my two areas of fascination through ocean instrumentation development. 

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My family really helped to fuel my love for ocean research. We would explore local aquariums and visit the coastline frequently from a young age, thereby sparking my curiosity in the aquatic world and the mysteries that it holds. 

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

Given that much of the ocean remains unexplored, this is the aspect that I find most fascinating. We as a community of ocean explorers are constantly discovering new and incredibly fascinating forms of life. The beauty of the unknown is a large driving factor for me. 

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I have participated in a variety of undergraduate research projects while at MIT. This included working with Dr. Christopher Carr in the quest to look for extreme life both on Earth and on Mars. An example of such extreme life is bacteria that can survive in acidic or intense heat conditions. We prototyped collectors and performed field research in different corners of the world, such as volcanoes in Argentina. We also formed our own team to create a particle sampler to collect biotic samples in high altitudes (~120,000 feet) in collaboration with LSU's High Altitude Student Platform. I also performed internships, such as most recently at Capta Stream Energy in Santiago, Chile, where I helped develop a sensor to measure stream velocities of fresh water channels.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelors of Science in Biological Engineering – Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2016

What are your hobbies?

I love hiking and exploring our beautiful planet. I also enjoy writing poetry and salsa dancing. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?

I would highly advise them to pursue a career that really motivates them. This means that your career will be a constant intellectual adventure. I would also advise them to try out other types of jobs to figure out what they do and don’t enjoy. You can gain new skills that you can ultimately employ in your future. 

How did you get involved in the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

I was a ROV Engineering intern the past summer for the Galapagos Rift platform. After my time aboard, I was addicted and am thankful to be coming back as an Argus pilot!


"Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the dynamics of the ocean and the incredible wealth of life in just a tidepool. Many years later, this fascination still continues to thrive and I am very excited to grow my passion while sailing aboard Nautilus."