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SEA Days: Meet the Locals

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography or UC San Diego researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

Summer is just about upon us, which means it’s the start of Shark Summer at Birch Aquarium. For the next several months we will be celebrating our local shark and ray populations, with an emphasis on leopard sharks. June’s SEA Days: Meet The Locals, is bringing a very special scientist, Dr. Andy Nosal, in to talk about his research. He is a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is the aquarium’s DeLaCour Fellow in Ecology & Conservation. Lucky for us, this appointment means that he will be spending lots of time working with the aquarium and sharing his research with our visitors.

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Dr. Nosal studies the spatial ecology of elasmobranch fishes (sharks and rays), as well the biological, ecological consequences and conservation implications of the influences on movement. To say this another way, Dr. Nosal studies the local population of leopard sharks that comes to La Jolla every summer, and searches for answers as to why the sharks come here, what the composition of this shark population is, and what can be done to protect them and their environment. He will be at Birch Aquarium on June 21 to talk about his exciting shark research in a fun, relaxed, and informal setting. Here is a conversation we recently had with Dr. Nosal about his research and SEA Days:

SEA Days Scientist Q&A

Where did you go to college?
University of Virginia

What is your area of research?
Behavior and ecology of elasmobranch fishes (sharks and rays)

Who or what inspired you to become involved in marine science?
A very supportive high school biology teacher got me interested in marine science. Then, as an undergraduate, I did a study abroad program at the University of Queensland in Australia where I took classes in marine biology and got to see sharks in person on coral reefs. I thought the sharks were just beautiful and wanted to learn more about them.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
A good scientist is self-motivated, curious, and creative. A great scientist is also an excellent communicator in both oral and written forms.

Why is your research topic important?
There is still a lot unknown about the behavior and ecology of sharks and rays and many important conservation implications of understanding their movement patterns. The public is naturally interested in sharks and so studying these animals provides a natural conduit to engage the public in science and inform them about broader issues in marine biology beyond sharks.ba_A_sharksummer13_004

What will you be bringing with you to SEA days?
I will likely bring some of the equipment I use to track sharks. These include acoustic transmitters that emit a pinging sound underwater and the acoustic receivers used to listen for these pings. By following the sound we can follow the shark.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
Get a BROAD science education and do not specialize too soon. Majoring in marine biology as an undergrad is not necessary to become a marine biologist. It is important to get a solid foundation in general biology, chemistry, physics, math, statistics, AND communication. I cannot stress that enough. Great scientists need to be excellent writers and oral communicators. Look for opportunities to volunteer and get practical experience as a research assistant or volunteer.

What is your favorite ocean organism?
SHARKS!

Join us on Saturday, June 21 for SEA Days: Meet the Locals—there’s something for everyone!

SEA Days are 11 a.m – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free to aquarium members. Not a member?Join today!

SEA you there!

Carbon Cooperation: Birch Aquarium Looks Forward to Annual Keeling Lecture

1958. A very important year for science.

Along with launching the first American satellite into orbit and celebrating Frederick Sanger’s Nobel Prize for describing the protein structure of insulin, 1958 was the year Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Charles Keeling began daily measurements of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. Keeling’s discovery of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide concentrations caused by burning fossil fuels became the foundation for today’s profound concerns about climate change. He passed away in 2005, but ongoing carbon dioxide measurements are continually added to the renowned “Keeling Curve.”

Birch Aquarium recently updated the Keeling Curve display in its award-winning Feeling the Heat exhibit. Creeping increases in carbon dioxide show how levels of this gas are straying farther and farther away from the safe upper limit of 350 parts per million. In spring 2014, monthly carbon dioxide concentrations consistently remained above 400 parts per million—conditions Earth has not experienced for three to five million years.

The relentless rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere shows that humans are changing Earth’s climate at an accelerated rate.

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On Tuesday, May 13, as part of the Jeffrey B. Graham Perspectives on Ocean Science Lecture Series, Birch Aquarium will host its fifth annual Charles David Keeling Lecture, an event to highlight a UC San Diego researcher’s work on climate change. This year, we welcome Professor David Victor, an internationally recognized leader in research on energy and climate change policy and director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.Faculty_David Victor Headshot_2012

Victor’s interests were first sparked in the 1980s when international treaties were written to counteract ozone depletion. Victor was fascinated by the negotiations and, during graduate school, driven to understand why the treaties were so effective.

Then came concerns about climate change. Victor realized that to unravel the political aspects of climate change, he needed to understand energy markets and energy technologies. Over a decade, he educated himself on energy issues to discern the underlying structure of energy markets.

Finding diplomatic solutions to compel action by countries that emit the most carbon pollution—industrialized countries such as the United States and Japan and emerging countries such as China and India—is crucial. But how do you get countries with different interests to work together? It helps to bring political scientists into the climate conversation. “Political scientists help you understand how things that are politically difficult can be put into practice,” says Victor.

Victor cites his collaboration with Scripps scientists Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Charles Kennel to reduce soot emissions in Asia. Wood and manure-burning stoves emit carbon pollution including carbon dioxide and methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. Substituting no- and low-emission cooking appliances will reduce soot emissions by as much as three or four times the current levels. “It’s not going to stop global warming,” Victor says. “But we’re very excited because soot is a pollutant that lines up better with the underlying interests of India, China, and other big emitters. Because even when they don’t care about climate change, they might care a lot about local air pollution.”

This project underscores the need to couple diplomatic solutions with cultural innovation and deployment of no- and low-emission technologies.

The United States faces a similar problem. What technologies do we put our resources and budgets behind: advanced renewables, advanced nuclear, capturing and containing carbon underground, etc.? Victor warns that the United States should not embrace a particular technology. “We really need to avoid picking winners at this stage. We just don’t know what’s going to work best.” Instead, Victor recommends that the United States embrace competition.

“The [climate] problem is much more dire than even five or ten years ago. It’s deeply disturbing. It’s going to be hard and difficult, but over several decades, there are pretty clear strategies for fixing this problem.”

 

- Kate Jirik

Join our climate conversation during Tuesday evening’s lecture. More information and to RSVP.

Learn more about David Victor’s work.

Keep tabs on Scripps’ Keeling Curve

SEA Days: All About Aerosols

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography or UC San Diego researcher and get hands-on with science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

Continuing with last month’s topic of atmospheric chemistry. Since May is Clean Air Month, May’s SEA Days is all about aerosols and you! Aerosols are extremely small particles (like dust, soot, and sea spray) that live in Earth’s atmosphere. Aerosols are very influential to the health of the environment, and therefore, to people! Aerosols affect many atmospheric chemistry aspects, such as cloud formation and ozone depletion. These tiny particles come from a variety of sources, such as vehicles, volcanoes, and sea spray from the ocean.

You are in for a treat with this month’s SEA Days visiting scientist, because several members of UC San Diego’s Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE) will be at Birch Aquarium, demonstrating real-time experiments and answering your questions. Researchers at CAICE focus on improving our understanding of how aerosol particles impact the environment, air quality, and climate. For example, they study how changes in ocean biology impact sea-spray production, composition, and climate properties by using an ocean-atmosphere wave flume.

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In addition to conducting research, CAICE plays an active role in education and outreach to inform the public of climate and air pollution research and to spread science education. One of the visiting scientists at SEA Days on May 21 is Camille Sultana, a graduate student in the Prather Lab at UC San Diego (which participates in CAICE). Read our conversation about her experience in atmospheric chemistry research and what will visitors can expect at SEA DaysDSC03142

Where did you go to college?
Harvey Mudd College

What is your area of research?
Atmospheric Aerosol Chemistry

Who or what inspired you to become involved in atmospheric chemistry/marine science?
I wanted to be able to do work that would help to improve human health and the health of the environment. Also, atmospheric chemistry is really cool because I get the opportunity to take on a number of different projects from instrument development, to field studies, to data analysis.  I always have the chance to learn something new.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
Perseverance and the ability to think critically about others and your own work.

Why is your research topic important?
Atmospheric aerosols are like tiny floating laboratories. So much chemistry in the atmosphere is dependent upon aerosols, from the formation of clouds to the depletion of the ozone hole.

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What will you be bringing with you to SEA days?
We will be bringing our “cloud in a bottle” activity. In this activity, visitors will be able to make a cloud in a bottle and see how the introduction of aerosols changes the properties of the clouds formed. Additionally, we will be bringing a particle counter that allows visitors to see how numerous aerosols are in the very air they breathe, even though the aerosols are largely invisible to the naked eye.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
To be an atmospheric chemist you have to be able to pull knowledge from biology, meteorology, physical chemistry, computer programming, engineering, and more. It is very interdisciplinary, which allows people from a wide variety of backgrounds to get involved as long as they have a willingness to collaborate. It’s hard to be an expert in everything, but you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and be able to communicate and work with scientists who study topics different from yourself.

What is your favorite ocean organism or molecule or aspect of atmospheric chemistry?
Seahorses! Seahorses are amazing. Go check out the seahorse exhibit! Those are some crazy-shaped fish.
As far as atmospheric chemistry, I think recent findings that dust and pollution transported from Asia can affect weather patterns here in California is really interesting. It illustrates how complicated studying something as huge and uncontrolled as the atmosphere is.

Join us on Saturday, May 17 for SEA Days: Breathing in Climate Change—there’s something for everyone!

SEA Days are 11 a.m – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free to aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

BE WiSE Overnight: A Unique Opportunity for Science-Minded Young Women

On Friday, April 11, 40 middle-school aged girls were treated to a unique experience as they participated in a fun, science-filled sleepover at Birch Aquarium. The aquarium hosted the annual BE WiSE (Better Education for Women in Science & Engineering) overnight featuring a keynote speaker and workshop presenters from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Marine Fossil Study
The mission of BE WiSE is to engage young women in learning experiences in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in collaboration with the region’s research, industry, and academic institutions. A recent report published by the Department of Commerce revealed that only 24% of the STEM workforce is women. Events like BE WiSE and groups such as the Society of Women Engineers and the Association for Women in Science provide critical support and encouragement for women and girls who are interested in degrees and careers in STEM fields.
Ocean acid chemistry
Throughout the evening the young women learned about geology, marine paleontology, the Earth’s polar regions, and the chemistry and biological effects of ocean acidification through a series of engaging, hands-on experiments and demonstrations.

Birch Aquarium was proud to host these bright young women for this special event!

SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography or UC San Diego researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

You are cordially invited to April’s SEA Days event, “Party for the Planet,” a fun and educational party in honor of Earth Day! April’s theme continues that of last month (ocean acidification and climate change) and will be all about atmospheric chemistry! Atmospheric chemistry is the study of the makeup of the atmosphere, the abundance and distribution of greenhouse gasses, air pollutants, aerosol particles, and the changes induced by natural and anthropogenic (human-produced) processes. This is an important topic in the study of Earth’s atmosphere and the underlying chemical processes because it affects the environment through pathways such as air-sea exchange.

Our visiting scientist for SEA Days this month is Dr. Timothy Bertram, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC San Diego. Dr. Bertram teaches environmental chemistry and general chemistry and his lab focuses on atmospheric chemistry, climate change, and environmental sustainability. I recently sat down with Dr. Bertram to “dive deeper” into his area of expertise and to find out what he will be bringing to SEA Days.

 

Where did you go to college?
I got my B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, ME, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

What is your area of research?
My research group focuses on field observations of trace gases and aerosol with a specific focus on the factors that control oxidant loadings in the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere (known as the troposphere).

Who or what inspired you to become involved in atmospheric chemistry/marine science?
While I have always had a keen interest in environmental processes, it was while working as a Research Technician at the University of Hawaii that I refined this vision.  This was largely due to the mentoring of Professor Barry Huebert.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
Creativity, confidence, determination, and an abundance of curiosity.

Why is your research topic important?
Our research focuses on determining factors that control the lifetime of a host of greenhouse gases and the production rates of criteria air pollutants.  As such, our research efforts are relevant to both advancing our understanding of Earth’s climate and urban air quality.Bertram_teach

What will you be bringing with you to SEA days?
I am still deciding what exactly to bring, but likely will have an array of portable sensors for measuring atmospheric particulates and trace gases.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
Study the fundamentals and make every effort to get into a laboratory as soon as possible.  This is where the topics you learn in school are shaped into problem solving skills.

What is your favorite ocean organism?
As an atmospheric chemist, the biology of the ocean is a complete mystery to me.

 

Join us on Saturday, April 19 for SEA Days: Party for the Planet—there’s something for everyone!

SEA Days are 11 a.m – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free to aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

Dolphin Sightings Delight Whale Watchers

By Birch Aquarium naturalist Danielle Carter

Birch Aquarium is just past the halfway point of our 14th season of whale watching in partnership with Flagship Cruises & Events. So far, it’s been an incredible season, with over 400 whales spotted, including tiny calves and numerous breaches!

Photo by Marsha MacWillie.

Photo by Marsha MacWillie.

But gray whales are not the only marine mammals we have been seeing on our trips. So far, we have also been treated to multiple sightings of not just one, but four species of dolphin—common dolphin, Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Pacific white-sided dolphin, and Risso’s dolphin.

As its name implies, the common dolphin is the dolphin species we most commonly see out on the water. Common dolphins are about seven feet long, weigh close to 300 pounds, and typically travel in large pods. We have seen these playful dolphins on numerous trips and a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to witness a large pod of over 500 individuals! They were very active and to the delight of guests onboard, the dolphins came right over to the Marietta—bow riding, splashing in our wake, and leaping into the air with the style of acrobats. There were so many dolphins that they were literally surrounding our boat.

You know you’re having a good day out on the water when you’re not only seeing migrating gray whales, but also dolphins as far as the eye can see.

Whale Watching Season, December 2010 - April 2011

Of the four dolphin species, the Risso’s dolphin is the least common in our area. This season we have been lucky enough to spot pods of Risso’s dolphins on several of our trips, including a large pod of over 30 individuals. Risso’s are a larger species of dolphin and can reach lengths of up to 12 feet, and can weigh up to 1,100 pounds.

They have a very distinctive look, with a tall dorsal fin, a rounded head, and numerous white scars along their dark gray bodies. Calves are born solid gray in color, but accumulate scars as they mature from squid bites, parasites, and rake marks from other Risso’s dolphins.  As a result, mature Risso’s dolphins are nearly white in coloration, which along with their size makes them very easy to identify.

Risso's Dolphins

Risso’s Dolphins. Photo by Danielle Carter.

We have also recorded several sightings of the familiar Pacific bottlenose dolphins and the playful Pacific white-sided dolphins. Our whale watching season continues through April 13, so there is still plenty of time to go on an adventure out on the Pacific to witness the incredible diversity of dolphin species off our coast and of course the epic migration of the Eastern Pacific gray whale.

Want to see dolphins, gray whales, and more? Go whale watching with Birch Aquarium and Flagship Cruises & Events, now through April 13!

SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scripps Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

Chances are that you have heard conversations in your community or on the news about climate change and ocean acidification. Do you have questions about climate change and want to know more about current research? Are you curious about local research on ocean acidification? March’s SEA Days, Sea Changes, is your perfect opportunity to explore this topic! Saturday, March 15 at Birch Aquarium is all about ocean acidification and its effects on marine life.

Susan Kram, a research associate in the Smith Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will be our visiting scientist for the day. She studies the effects of ocean acidification on temperate macroalgae in addition to managing the Scripps Water Acidity Monitoring Program (SWAMP). I recently sat down with Susan to “dive deeper” into her journey through the field of marine biology and what she will be bringing to SEA Days!

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Where did you go to college?
I graduated with a BS in Biology from UC San Diego and graduated with an MS in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

What is your area of research?
I research the effects of ocean acidification on seaweeds and monitor ocean acidification off the Scripps Pier.

Who or what inspired you to become involved in marine science?
I have always loved the ocean and when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a marine biologist. My parents always brought me to beaches, aquariums, and tidepools, so that’s probably why I fell in love with it.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
Curiosity!

Why is your research topic important?
Ocean acidification is important because it has the potential to affect all marine life, but in different ways, which is why it is vital that researchers keep studying it.

What will you be bringing with you to SEA days?
For SEA Days I hope to explain ocean acidification by first explaining the concept of pH, which is a measurement of acidity.  Most people are already aware of pH (even though they may not realize it); I will demonstrate this using common household items.  My station will also include some local San Diego seaweeds and I will demonstrate how different species will be affected differently by ocean acidification.  Lastly, I will discuss efforts being made here at Scripps to monitor ocean acidification off the Scripps Pier.

Kram at a previous SEA Days event.

Kram at a previous SEA Days event.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
Find a science organization that appeals to you and volunteer there!  It’s the best way to develop skills and get some hands-on experience. Spend time in and around the ocean.  Watch the world around you and let your curiosity flow!

What is your favorite ocean organism?
Sea hare!

 

Join us on Saturday, March 15 for SEA Days: Sea Changes—there’s something for everyone!

SEA Days are 11 a.m – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free to aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

 

Diego Goes Whale Watching with Birch Aquarium

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student who recently participated in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego assisted the aquarium’s education programs and blogged about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

The whale watching boat, Flagship Cruises & Events’ Marietta, took off from San Diego Harbor at 9:45 a.m. It was smooth sailing as we exited into the open sea. Our naturalists Chris and Art spent most of the time narrating from the boat’s speaker system. Leaving the harbor, they talked about the history of the harbor and the various animals we saw—seals, seagulls, and even a couple common dolphins. Some of the guests mistook large seaweed floats for seals.

When we were finally in the open ocean, the boat slowed at the sighting of some smooth-looking water, which is an indicator that a whale is about to surface. The crowd awaited the whale with much anticipation; everyone readied their cameras. The whale surfaced and blew mist in the air. People raced to snap pictures of the whale as it emerged out of the water. Then it surfaced again, this time exposing its tail. When a whale exposes its tail before it dives under, the next time they will surface is anywhere from 3-5 minutes.

I got a chance to interview one of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps whale naturalists and take some footage of our boat’s whale sightings.

As we returned from the trip, some more common dolphins appeared on our starboard side to give us one last farewell. It was a very excellent way to spend a day, and as they say, “all’s whale that ends whale.”

Teaching Stories of Sandy Shores to Second Graders

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student who recently participated in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The internship program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego assisted the aquarium’s education programs and blogged about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

There are a wide variety of educational programs offered at Birch Aquarium. My personal favorite is Sandy Shores. Children in second grade learn how sand is made—from larger rocks into smaller and smaller pieces until it is sand. This program offers children a chance to learn and appreciate life in our sands. There are many creatures that call sand their home.

In Sandy Shores, there are three stations. At one station, students view different kinds of sand under a microscope and draw what they see on their paper. At another station, the group makes a creature of their own with an adaptation that would help them survive in the sandy shores. The third station is my favorite to lead. It’s the one where kids draw sandy shore animals and then get to touch them. “Only touch with two fingers, though. We want to be gentle with these little guys,” I remind them. One little girl asks, “Will the sea urchin hurt me?” “It doesn’t want to hurt you. It has those spikes to make sure other animals don’t eat it,” I reply as I show her they’re fine to touch.

White Urchin

When teacher Art Smart shows the second graders some sand littered with bits of plastics and other trash, there is a unanimous cry of “ewww.” After seeing white and coral sands, sand with trash is far less mesmerizing. Art explains to the students that all of the animals they see here—sand crabs, sea snails, sand dollars, and sea urchins—have adapted to living in the sand.

Learning to appreciate marine habitats such as the sandy shore is an important lesson for second graders. In fact, it’s important for everyone to learn about!

SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scripps Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

February’s SEA Days, Listen Closely, is all about whales and whale acoustics. Did you know sound travels faster in water than on land? Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography use acoustics to learn more about whales—their population abundances, seasonality, and behavior.

One such researcher is Liz Vu, a fourth year Scripps Ph.D. candidate from the Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab, who will discuss her research at this month’s SEA Days on Saturday, February 15. To get ready for the weekend, I sat down with Liz to “dive deeper” into her interests and area of expertise.

Where did you go to college?

I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad, and now I’m at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, working on my Ph.D.

What is your area of research?
I research habitat modeling using marine mammal acoustics in the context of their reproductive, social and foraging behaviors.

Who or what inspired you to become involved in marine science?
I did not grow up dreaming to be a marine biologist. I managed to get an amazing internship opportunity when I was at UC Berkeley that introduced me to the interdisciplinary field of oceanography. The life of fieldwork, working on boats, and doing real-world science got me hooked!

Liz in the field in Antactica.

Liz in the field in Antarctica.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
First and foremost, do not be afraid of science!  I am a big fan of advocating science to younger versions of myself (read: woman and Asian-American) who may not necessarily want to pursue research science due to the illusion that it is boring or hard. Also, I believe in interdisciplinary education. In order to solve complex global problems, you need rigorous interdisciplinary training. Considering I love science, social sciences, economics, and political affairs, oceanography was a way I could mesh everything together.

Why is your research topic important?
I want to be able to inform the public and policymakers how endangered species may be affected by a change in their environment (brought about by a change in climate). Since our ocean environment is changing rapidly, it is important to understand where and why whales may go to a different type of habitat.

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Liz at a previous SEA Days event.

What will visitors to SEA Days: Listen Closely see?
I am bringing some acoustic equipment I use for my research. I also will bring some dolphin skulls, some samples of what dolphins eat, and some demonstrations of how I study whales in the ocean.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
It is very important to get a basic science education (whether or not it is called “marine”).  The basic principles of science and biology don’t change on a fundamental level whether you study whales, or plants, or microorganisms.  Therefore, if you get a good education studying any one ecosystem, you can still become a marine biologist!

What is your favorite ocean organism?
I will always love the right whale, one of the most vulnerable whale species right now.  However, I can’t leave out invertebrates, especially copepods (what some whales eat).  Invertebrates are so diverse and really cool!

Are you interested in a career in marine science? Do you want to learn what whale researches study? Or maybe you just love whale watching and want to learn more about these incredible mammals. Join us on Saturday, February 15 for SEA Days: Listen Closely—there’s something for everyone.

SEA Days are 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free for aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!