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Featured Student: Jacqueline McSweeney PDF Print E-mail

I grew up in Southern California, where I spent most of my time exploring the desert terrains, poppy-covered mountains and incredible coastlines. My adventures here fostered an intense scientific curiosity, and I fell in love with learning about earth systems. My early years were spent dabbling in all sorts of self-designed science projects at home and in the yard, yielding many “observation journals” (that are quite humorous to look at now!).

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I formally began my journey of scientific exploration in high school when I conducted an experiment about the transmission of red light through fiber optic cables for the science fair. By guiding me through the scientific process, my mentors opened my eyes to the world of research and played an important role in kick starting my science career.

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Motivated by my interests in both science and language, I soon found myself at Loyola Marymount University pursuing dual degrees in chemistry and Spanish. There, I was fortunate to spend four years in an organic chemistry lab doing research on Guanine-quadraplex formations. I worked on developing various syntheses, learning NMR analysis and modeling molecular structures. Through these experiences, I realized my passion for physics-based research and was prompted to explore other research opportunities.

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In 2010, I spent the summer at Rutgers University for the Research in Ocean Sciences (RIOS) REU program. Working with John Wilkin, I developed a project looking at the connections between sediment, optics, and productivity in the Delaware estuary. After just 10 weeks of working on this project, I found myself hooked on physical oceanography and knew I wanted to study it further. I returned to LMU to complete my BA in Spanish and a BS in Chemistry, and then made the decision to change fields.

In 2011, I began my PhD in physical oceanography at Rutgers University working with Bob Chant and John Wilkin. Expanding on my REU work, I have developed a project to look at sediment dynamics within Delaware’s estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM). Utilizing both observations and numerical modeling, this project aims to relate circulation features to sediment transport and discuss the implications for the optical environment, productivity, and biogeochemistry.

With the support of IMCS and an NSF graduate research fellowship, I have had the opportunity to delve headfirst into the oceanographic community and develop as an estuarine physicist. I am so appreciative of the support I have received through this journey. I love what I do and feel lucky to explore the world of science everyday!

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