Going diving in Kilkieran Bay! Loads of scallops and fish in those parts.
University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Alabama at Birmingham
BSc, MSc, PhD
UAB, Antarctica; University of Glasgow, Greenland; and NUI Galway
Favourite thing to do in science: Figure out how seaweed works in marine habitats like kelp forests or Polar regions like Greenland and Antarctica
About Me: I am a seaweed enthusiast from California, but usually study seaweed in really cold places like Antarctica and Ireland.
I come from California, Steinbeck country. I think ‘Cannery Row’ provides the setting for the coast of northern California and what rock-pooling is like there. Surprisingly it is NOT warm- see the link to the beach I grew up on.
Besides science, I love to draw and paint, crochet and quilt, play music and explore.
Favorite movie- Ghostbusters and Monsters Inc are classics
Favorite Book- Might still be Princess Bride, but 20,000 leagues under the sea is a delightful read. A short history of nearly everything is also great- but especially if you like science.
My Work: Marine botanist (seaweed enthusiast) and bipolar scientist.
I think some people are confused when I tell them I study seaweeds like kelp. I used to work with dolphins and sea lions (sea otters too) but one day, while learning how to become a science diver in the kelp forest, I decided to give it all up for the algae (official name of seaweeds). Why you ask? Actually, it’s very simple. Algae are so good at fitting in with their surroundings- they are found in so many places other than kelp forests like sea ice, your pool, inside corals, and they produce 50% of the oxygen we breath everyday.
I work in Botany and Plant Sciences at NUI Galway with Dr. Dagmar Stengel. My project looks at which animals choose to live in kelp forests from early on in their lives through to the teenage and adult years. I also study how fast kelps grow, and the age of kelps in each forest to see how often storms and waves might tear up kelps. This lets us know how stable forests are for the animals that live there and how much food the kelps might be providing for those animals.
My Typical Day: Days are spent SCUBA diving, counting animals and kelps, taking photographs, and then bringing kelp back to the lab to inspect it.
START: cup of coffee
8 AM: cup of coffe
10 AM: First dive- take pictures and count stuff
12 PM: lunch on a grass knoll near the beach (in the rain)
2PM: second dive- take pictures, count stuff and collect some kelp
4 PM: Dry off and drive back to the lab
6 PM: snacks and count kelps and animals in the lab
What I'd do with the money: Work on a kelp forest exhibit with the Atlantaquarium in the Galway
Many aquariums have found it possible to keep kelps in aquaria alongside the animals that live there. I hope to create an exhibit where kelp forests can show off all their glory in the Atlantaquarium, Galway. We have chatted about making picture displays, murals, and even 3D printing kelps so that visitors can get a feel for kelp forests without going for a swim. In the future we can try to keep some kelps in the aquarium and even show people how kelp farming works in the ocean.
The Atlantaquarium is a unique institute that showcases native Atlantic species (the skate and shark breeding program is class) and ocean literacy! They have about 80,000 visitors annually, 3,000 students, and a beautiful webpage that gets about 120,000 hits annually: http://www.nationalaquarium.ie/
No matter the results, we plan to create more displays for visitors describing seaweed and how important it is for the oceans.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
hardworking, passionate biologist
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
meatballs (albondigas, frikadeller, polpette, keftedes, etc)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
diving with penguins
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
What was your favourite subject at school?
Biology and Art
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
Sylvia Earle, John Steinbeck, and Jane Lubchenco
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Ship Captain or a butcher
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I wish 1) had more time, 2) I owned a boat, and 3) I lived closer to my family
Tell us a joke.
Whats the difference between a old bus stop and a lady crab?