Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I study the biodiversity of animals on the seafloor. Basically, I try and figure out where important ecosystems and species are and why. This allows me to develop models that predict where else in the ocean they may be in order to conserve them. My Ph.D. research focuses on deep-sea coral reefs, how both they and the species that rely on them are distributed and connected throughout the ocean, and how these ecosystems will be affected by climate change. To address this, I incorporate oceanographic data and biological samples collected at sea with the aid of submersibles and other tools, use genetics and other techniques back at the lab, and write computer code to analyze large data sets such as climate models or databases of species occurrences.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
While I always had a fascination with the natural world – especially animals – and an interest in climate issues, my upbringing in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona kept me far from the ocean. While studying abroad in Australia as an undergraduate, I fell in love with marine invertebrates, and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef reinforced my commitment to understanding and conserving marine biodiversity in the face of climate change. I got 'hooked' on the deep sea during a Master's degree in Canada where I studied seafloor communities in British Columbia's fjords and the role of extreme climatic events in shaping them.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I have been lucky to have many great mentors and supporters, including graduate supervisors who have allowed me to pursue my varied research interests, many brilliant peers for inspiration/help, and parents who always supported my curiosity.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
Nothing beats going to sea and exploring! With every dive to the seafloor, we learn new things and unearth new questions about our planet's largest habitable area.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
My formative jobs in catering and a shipping warehouse taught me that I want to use my brain for a career!
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with Minor in Biology -- Arizona State University 2015; Master of Science in Earth & Ocean Science and Biology -- University of Victoria 2017
What are your hobbies?
I am a musician, and love to play and produce music with friends in my makeshift home recording studio. I'm also into basketball, running (when the weather's nice), reading (when the weather isn't), and enjoying being outdoors with my dog.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Never stop being curious and read often and widely to figure out what the leaders in the field are doing. Learn skills (e.g.coding, lab techniques) and figure out how to leverage them to address the questions you're curious about.