Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley working with Dr. Chip Breier. I am trained as a chemical oceanographer and my research focuses on biogeochemical processes that affect the world’s oceans. During my graduate studies, I built and designed a system to incubate and analyze in-situ samples for microbially mediated methane oxidation. I demonstrated light rare earth elemental usage in methanotrophs as well as determined chemical kinetics involved in methanotrophy. I am currently working on designing and building sampling systems to be deployed in a variety of environments (including SUBSEA) as well as making vehicles to make these sampling systems mobile.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I have always been interested in science and engineering since I was a kid. After working in a geochemistry lab post-college, I became more interested in the interdisciplinary mix of science and engineering with earth sciences.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My parent's trained me to work hard since I was a child so I would say they encouraged me the most by instilling the mental tools to be successful in anything I choose to do.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
I think the most fascinating thing is being able to rapid prototype designs and make working prototypes to be tested in the fields. I have carried this out on several research cruises and seeing how the prototypes behave is the most useful for building successful scientific equipment.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I worked in a geochemistry lab on several projects before I got into oceanography. I worked on a project involving analogs to discovering microbial life on other planets and an arsenic remediation project.
What are your degrees and certifications?
B.S. Biotechnology, M.S. Geosciences, Ph.D. Geosciences
What are your hobbies?
I workout and play volleyball on the regular. I like to build aerial drones, work on motorcycles/cars/trucks, and go on adventures with my dog. I also like to snorkel, scuba dive, and hunt.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
I would learn as much engineering and design related material you can. Learn how to use Solidworks, 3D printing, electronic circuits, and software programming. Almost everything is on the internet these days so you don't really even need books or classes to learn anymore. I also think constantly challenging your boundaries and thinking of new ways to do things is key to succeeding in interdisciplinary fields such as oceanography.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?
I was brought in by my PI (Dr. John "Chip" Breier) to work on the design and implementation of the sampling systems for ROV Hercules.