Growing up next to the ocean made my decision to follow an ocean career pretty easy. I am originally from Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, where I grew up going to the beach, swimming and sailing all year round. Being a sea scout between the ages of 6 and 24 opened my eyes to the environment around me, specifically the marine one. It also made me field work ready. I never say no to an opportunity to go in the field and enjoy whatever the ocean wants to teach me.
While most of my friends growing up enjoyed lying on a towel at the beach and getting some sun, I, on the other hand, would always be either in the water or exploring the tiny critters in the tide pools. It was no surprise to anyone when I decided to become a marine biologist.
I did both my undergrad and my masters in Lisbon, which, in spite of being quite close to the water, did not provide many opportunities to conduct oceanographic studies. So I got on a plane and crossed half of the Atlantic Ocean to a small island called Faial, in the Archipelago of the Azores to sign up for a second masters, this time in Oceanography in the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries (University of the Azores). The close proximity and easy access to the ocean made me fall in love with the place.
While there I had several opportunities to be exposed to the oceanography world. I went on several oceanographic cruises, worked with satellite imagery (AVISO, SST and ocean color) and in situ data from cruises, and also participated in a project involving an invasive algae where diving was required to map the colonies and kill the invasive algae.
I also had the opportunity to come to Rutgers for an internship during the Transatlantic Crossing with a glider (ru27). I had a great time and learned so much that I decided to come back, this time for the PhD program. So I cross the other half of the Atlantic Ocean, where I’ve been for the past 3 years.
I work with Josh Kohut and Oscar Schofield looking at phytoplankton dynamics in submarine canyons in the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). This work is part of a bigger project, the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) at Palmer Station that looks at the WAP ecosystem response to changes in climate.
I am interested in studying the dynamics of the spring phytoplankton bloom in a canyon near Palmer Station. The Palmer Deep Canyon, along with other canyons in the WAP are hypothesized to be biological “hotspots”. However the physiology and composition of the phytoplankton blooms and the physical mechanisms driving them aren’t well understood. So we are looking at the phytoplankton community response to nutrient delivery through upwelling and various light regimes (shoaling of the mixed layer), using gliders and mesocosms incubation experiments.
Surprisingly enough (or not), my main interests outside work also involve water. I love diving and sailing. During my stay in the Azores I completed my divemaster certification and captain’s license. A couple months ago I finished my PADI assistant instructor course here at Rutgers hoping to join three things I really like doing: diving, sharing my knowledge (teaching) and getting other people really excited about diving. I also love traveling, photography, geocaching and gardening on my porch.
With the support from IMCS, NSF and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology I’ve had amazing opportunities to do what I love the most. I’ve participated in cruises in Antarctica and North Atlantic, I’ve gone on several glider deployments and I’m in a place where I can learn oceanography from some of the best in the field. I can’t ask for much more.