I was eleven years old when I read this quote, when I learned about Jacques Cousteau's adventures, and about the wonders of the ocean. This quote captivated me and made me incredibly curious about what the ocean had to offer.
During the summer of 2001, I went on a family vacation to St. Thomas, USVI where I was introduced to the ocean. While playing in the sand one day, a girl about my age brought over a white sea urchin and a sea star. My eyes grew wide, I put down my shovel and pail, and was completely enthralled with the amazing sea life this stranger was showing me. Before I could open my mouth to ask questions, she grabbed my hand and told me to follow her. She handed me a pair of flippers, found me some googles and told me we were going snorkeling. I remember thinking, "Snorkeling? What the heck is snorkeling? Where is this girl taking me?". I was so confused and a little apprehensive, but then - I saw it!! I saw a coral reef! I saw so many colors, so many beautiful fish, large and small, and so many corals! Needless to say, my head was underwater that entire vacation.
After that magical week was over, I went back to the land-locked city of Chicago wanting to explore more. My parents quickly became members of the Shedd Aquarium and found some opportunities for me to take part in. Throughout high school, I remained active in a variety of Shedd Aquarium programs, exploring ecosystems and solving problems. During my sophomore year of High School, I travelled to Bimini, Bahamas with the Shedd Aquarium's High School Marine Biology (HSMB) trip. I learned how to ask scientific questions, conduct experiments, and write scientific reports. I learned firsthand what life was like as a marine biologist and I loved it!
And thus began my quest to become a real marine biologist...
This a blog is about my various interactions with the ocean, how they lead to my passion for the ocean and lead me here to graduate school!!
I'm a PhD Student at Oregon State University, studying coral reef thermal acclimation and tolerance. I use genomics and genetics to understand how corals are going to respond to future conditions with the onset of ocean warming.