Abigail  Powell headshot photo

Abigail Powell

Scientist Ashore
Marine Scientist- Deep Sea Research
Lynker Technologies under contract to NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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

I work with the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center to analyze data collected using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to describe the distributions of deep-sea corals, sponges and fishes and to answer specific management and ecological questions. My work involves assisting with image and sample collection at sea, data analysis and publication and trialing automated image analysis tools. Some recent work has involved using the AUV imagery to describe a deep-sea fish spawning aggregation site.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

A combination of spending summers poking around in rockpools and watching David Attenbourough's natural history documentaries.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My parents were very supportive and I don't think I would have got through my PhD without the encouragement of the other students at my lab going through the same thing.

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

Waiting for the AUV to come back on board after a dive and seeing what pictures she has taken of the seabed is always a thrill. You never know what deep sea creature might have been caught on camera.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I have had a number of different research jobs including: contract diver removing an invasive seaweed in New Zealand, field supervisor for undergraduates doing coral reef research, coral reef monitoring project leader, teaching assistant, junior professional officer for the Species Program at IUCN.

What are your degrees and certifications?

PhD in Marine Biology -- Victoria University of Wellington; Masters of Science -- University of Oxford; Bachelor of Science in Biology -- University of Durham

What are your hobbies?

I love hiking, crafting and walking my dog

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

Don't be shy about getting in touch with people who are working in research areas that interest you to get advice. Be open to learning new skills and make the most of opportunities that come up even if it's not exactly the area you want to specialize in. Be open to traveling and studying at different organizations, you will learn something new everywhere you go.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

I sailed on the Nautilus in 2016 as part of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team. We used the AUV alongside the ROVs Herc and Argus to survey the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. I'm very excited to participating in this expedition from shore as last time we found a number of new sponge species.


Abigail participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: