Anna Michel headshot photo

Anna Michel

Science/Data Team
Assistant Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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

My research focuses on the development of new chemical sensors for oceanic and atmospheric applications with a primary focus on using laser-based spectroscopy. A significant part of my research is on gas detection in ocean environments ranging from the coast to the deep sea. In recent years I’ve focused primarily on the measurement of carbon dioxide and methane and their isotopes. To date, I have deployed laser-based sensors in a range of environments from Beijing, China to the Arctic to the deep sea. My interests lie in advancing chemical sensors so that we can achieve sustained and autonomous measurements in remote and extreme environments. I focus my educational outreach on teaching middle school girls about ocean science and engineering through a hands-on institute that I have developed.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

As a high school student, I was part of Ballard's Jason Project expedition to the Galapagos Islands - meaning I was a high school intern on a program that was the predecessor to the Nautilus Program! It was my first experience with using ROVs to explore the ocean and I was fascinated by it. 

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My parents have always encouraged me and have always supported my career path.

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

The most fascinating part of my research is exploring using the ROV. It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded only by water and to be able to see what is below by using the ROV. 

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I've been involved in ocean research for many years. I spent 5 years at Princeton University away from the water, developing instruments for atmospheric and biomedical applications!

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Chemical Engineering - MIT 1998
Masters of Science in Ocean Engineering - MIT 2002
PhD in Mechanical and Oceanographic Engineering - MIT - WHOI Joint Program 2007

What are your hobbies?

I love spending time with my son, swimming, going to the beach, and traveling!

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

If you want to be an engineer, study a lot of math! 

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

I first sailed as a scientist aboard Nautilus in 2014. I am back for 2 expeditions in 2017 and am really excited to be on board again with such a great team of people!

"I am excited to return to Nautilus for the 2015 field season as I will not only be part of the exploration of the Gulf of Mexico but will also be part of an incredible STEM outreach program!"


Anna participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: