Emily Slesinger


The ocean has always been home to me. I grew up along the beaches of San Diego, and would take annual family vacations to Cape Cod, which probably sparked my earliest intrigue into marine science as I started comparing the different oceans. And while I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and the life within, it wasn’t until undergraduate that I realized that I was serious about perusing a career in marine biology. I graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz where I received a B.S. in Marine Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies. While at UCSC, I interned in an invertebrate ecology lab, studying krill population dynamics in the Monterey Bay. In order to obtain krill samples, I went on a few NOAA scientific cruises that traversed the California coast from San Francisco down to San Diego and back, sampling primarily for juvenile rockfish. On these research cruises I realized my true passion lied in fish biology so after graduation, I interned at NOAA SWFSC in Santa Cruz assisting studies on rockfish fecundity and recruitment.

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I am currently pursing my Ph.D. under Dr. Grace Saba.  My research focus is on studying the effects of climate change on economically and ecologically valuable North Atlantic fish.  Specifically, I study the physiology of fish to relate how they may be negatively impacted or acclimate to a changing ocean.  My current project is finding the thermal optimum for black sea bass.  We do this by measuring black sea bass aerobic scope, the difference between their maximum and resting metabolic rates, at a range of temperatures to see which temperature promotes the highest scope.  This is considered their thermal optimum.  Since we can’t measure metabolic rate directly, we use oxygen consumption, which can be measured in respirometry chambers.  The data from this project will be used to create habitat models that will predict where black sea bass may migrate to as ocean temperature rises along the Northeast Shelf.  When I’m not taking care of and testing my cohort of experimental black sea bass, I enjoy anything outdoors such as hiking, fishing, running, traveling, learning how to deal with real winter, and going to the beach.   When I’m indoors, I enjoy making popcorn and then eating it.

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Black sea bass in respirometry chamber (left) and the entire chamber-computer system set up (right).

L. Fernando Pareja

L. Fernando Pareja

When I was a kid, little did I know that growing up close to the Caribbean Sea would set me up on a lifelong path of earth sciences and engineering; an experience marked by adventure, learning, and derring-do. My early inclinations towards history and oceanography were not incompatible in Cartagena, Colombia, where an urbanized bay was both an oceanographic laboratory and a living repository of stories from the times of Spanish galleons, pirates, and gas lanterns. The dynamics salt, freshwater, and sediment in this bay have changed over decades following the pulse of the growing city, and the complexity of the resulting human-ocean interactions motivated me to study Environmental Engineering at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota.

L. Fernando Pareja

My passion towards fluid mechanics and coastal problems grew stronger, and I was happy to attend a summer course in Saint Petersburg, Russia, prior to taking a consulting job back in my hometown where I helped solve a problem related to saltwater intrusion. While it was exciting to be part of that effort, I realized that I still had much to learn about the motions of earth’s fluids, so I went back to school in Mexico and then back again to Colombia to study Meteorology and Wave Dynamics.

L. Fernando Pareja

The more I learned, the more I realized that I wanted to study estuaries in depth, and that’s when I came to Rutgers to work with Bob Chant and John Wilkin. Here at Rutgers I am lucky to combine history and oceanography, my two original passions, through the study of historical dredging and hydrodynamics in the Delaware Estuary. I like working on equations and modeling in the morning, and looking at archival records and microfilm in the afternoon. Being able to use advanced numerical tools in a project that helps people in coastal communities is the best part of my work. Right now, my main purpose is to apply oceanographic knowledge to help protect people and infrastructure from natural hazards, and to protect public health by understanding how pollutants move in coastal waters. Aside from work, I enjoy a low key lifestyle filled with art, literature, and long afternoon walks. I’m also a member of the US National Historical Society, which keeps me updated with the latest developments in this ‘other’ non-physics field. Cooking Caribbean food, non-fiction writing, and sea shanties are also on the list of things I enjoy.