Jessica Talbot headshot photo

Jessica Talbot

Science/Data Team
Graduate Student
University of Hawaii at Hilo

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

For the past couple years my focus has been coral reef ecology! I have looked at how sedimentation from poorly managed watersheds impacts coral community structure, and how bombing from World War II impacts coral reef ecology. A tool I use to do this is Structure-from-Motion photogrammetry (3D modeling) and ArcGIS. I have been using 3D modeling to quantify coral reef habitat complexity and health for the purpose of resource management tools/ restoration in Hawaii. Involved with this is some fieldwork acquiring the images, but most of my time is spent in the Multi-Scale Environmental Graphical Analysis (MEGA) Lab at UH Hilo, processing data.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I think I was drawn to Marine Science at UH Hilo because it meant I could be in the ocean as much as possible. I didn't know much about Marine Science before I started at UH Hilo, other than it meant I could surf and study all in the same place! I first became interested in corals when I took a coral reef ecology class my 2nd year, and from there on I stuck with the coral research opportunities that kept coming my way.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

I am surrounded by really influential people, including friends and family. My advisor, John Burns, is also incredibly inspiring because he is consistently developing new ways to answer complex questions in light of a changing underwater world. I also appreciate how he is always lighting the fire under my toes to work hard and be more precise.

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

The most fascinating thing about coral reef ecology is how many questions we can ask, and still not know the answer to. That leaves a lot of room for exploration and discovery!

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I've had a lot of great opportunities that lead me to where I am, including: Ike Wai data visualization Internship, surveying for DLNR on Maui, data analysis and 3D modeling in MEGA lab, underwater field courses, and conducting my senior thesis.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Marine Science -- University of Hawaii at Hilo 2019

What are your hobbies?

I like to spend my time surfing, windsurfing, and playing soccer. Besides the active stuff, I really love baking and cooking!

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

Be patient, and stick to working hard if it makes you satisfied at the end of the day. Always give yourself a balance between work and fun, and don't take life too seriously...unless you plan on being a brain surgeon.

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

My advisor, John Burns, participates in the Scientist Ashore network and put me in contact with the Nautilus Exploration Program team.


Jessica participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: