Scientist Paige

An aspiring oceanographer playing around in her favorite macroalgae, california giant kelp. Anacapa Island, July 2020.

*Before we get started with this emotional journey, if you are looking for my CV, click here.

I can’t pinpoint the moment when I decided when I wanted to be an oceanographer, but I can think of some of the largest influences on my decision to be one. From the youngest age, I was always transfixed with the ocean. I grew up an hour inland from the ocean, and any trip to the beach was the best day ever. I was constantly sunburnt with eyes red and swollen from the sun and salt, whether from the beach or any pool I could find.

When I was four my parents bought a documentary on VHS that followed Robert Ballard on his journey to find the Battleship Bismark. (which is on Youtube for free) Dr. Ballard used Argo, a research submarine which was towed from the ship and streamed back images of the muddy gray seafloor. When it was my turn to choose the movie on a Saturday night, this was my choice (or Singing in the Rain).

In school, I took a liking to math and science. When it came time to apply to college, I knew I wanted to do oceanography. Now, I am in my mid-twenties, but I still feel the same four-year-old wonder when I visit the beach. The more I learn about our oceans, the more questions I have.

NOAA Explorer in Training Program

April of 2022 I joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Exploration and Research as an Explorer in Training! While on board the RV Okeanos Explorer I worked with multiple hydrographic surveying tools to create mapping products for NOAA. The survey area was primarily South of Puerto Rico, and our focus onboard (beyond mapping) was to test new deep sea camera systems, collect eDNA, and create new GIS products that help streamline the transfer of oceanic data from ship to shore.

Similar to my first oceanographic cruise in March 2021, while aboard I sent newsletters to friends and family describing work and life at sea!

Newsletter #1: Bon Voyage!

Newsletter #2: Sonar!

Newsletter #3: Why are we doing this?

Newsletter #4: Welcome to my crib!

Newsletter #5: Our scientific sound gear

Newsletter #6: Cleaning data

Newsletter #7: A day in the life

Newsletter #8: Whats next?

Newsletter #9: Land sweet land

Climate Change for Cool Kids

What began as an informal part time lecture series during the initial COVID lockdown of 2020 has since turned into a monthly newsletter I share with any minds curious about climate science! I cover one topic each month, ranging from marine plastic, to wastewater treatment, to feedback loops, to satellites and their role in earth research. Sign up here! And take a peek at some of our past chats here!

GO SHIP A20 Cruise

In March and April of 2021, I served as a CTD watchstander on the GO SHIP A20 cruise. While aboard I published regular newsletters with details about what I was doing, what life is like at sea, and why being an oceanographer is the coolest job ever.

Newsletter #1: Welcome!!

Newsletter #2: What is a CTD?

Newsletter #3: Working 12 to 12

Newsletter #4: R/V Thomas Thompson

Newsletter #5: GO SHIP

Newsletter #6: The Sample Ballet

Newsletter #7: A day in the life

Newsletter #8: Sargassum and nutrient ratios

Newsletter #9: CO2 and water

Newsletter #10: The little things

Newsletter #11: FAQ

Newsletter #12: Cruise Report

Newsletter#13: Finding Oceanography

Newsletter #14: Final thoughts

Coastal Oceanography

With an insatiable interest in the ocean, UCSB was an obvious choice for my undergraduate education. I double majored in Earth Science and Physical Geography and had the opportunity to work with some of the world famous scientists and faculty at UCSB. Go gauchos!! I interned for the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and the COAST Lab. I wrote a senior thesis which is currently in preparation for journal submission. I TA’ed for the Earth Science Department. I was able to pursue ocean science from so many different angles and I loved EVERY SECOND.

Featured as a senior spotlight at UCSB, June 2018

I feel incredibly lucky to be at the start of my career as a graduate level scientist. Currently, I am in my first year of the Ph.D. program at UCLA in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. My advisor is Daniele Bianchi, and I am a member of the Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Group. As my research starts to take shape, I believe I will focus on the problems of harmful algal blooms in the California Current System. The thought of working on novel questions about our coastal ocean for the next five years makes me want to BURST with excitement.

Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Maps were always an integral part of our childhood. Perhaps my dad being a computer scientist at the largest mapping software company in the world had something to do with it… When I entered college, I began to see the amazing utility maps could provide to my ocean research. I took classes in GIS and fell in love with the power of mapping.

GIS is not my primary field or my end goal as a scientist. GIS is, however, a fantastic tool I intend to use for the rest of my career. Through my skills in mapping, I have been able to work at incredible places including the National Center for Atmospheric Research (my current job), Orsted energy (Danish offshore wind energy), and ESRI (for a quick and fantastic summer internship)

In summer 2021, I had the opportunity to aid a project to map the impacts of urban oil drilling on health in East LA. This project was funded via the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science at UCLA, and aimed to educate members of the Esparanza community on the utility of GIS while allowing them to analyze the climate injustice facing their community.

Want to see some of my work? Heres a link to my senior thesis storymap! At the 2019 ESRI User conference this map took home third place for spatial analysis storymaps.

Presentation of my senior thesis work at the ESRI Ocean Forum, 2018

Outreach / Leadership

If it is not obvious from the theme of the rest of my blog, I am completely in love with tutoring and outreach to scientific minds young and old.

The beginning of COVID lockdown in April 2020 inspired me to get in touch with a more creative format of teaching. I led an informal lecture series titled “Climate Change for Cool Kids during COVID” After the end of the series of talks, I decided to carry on the spirit of these fun and creative lessons into a monthly newsletter “Climate Change for Cool Kids” (Sign up here! Join the climate science party!)

At UCLA, I am a fellow in an incredibly talented cohort run through the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science (CDLS) My goals as a fellow are to educate myself on environmental justice issues, gain leadership skills to foster welcoming scientific environments, and become the best teacher possible. Within my department of Atmospheric and Ocean sciences I am currently the co-president of Chi Epsilon Pi (XEP), the graduate student body organization, and work with some amazing undergraduate mentees. I participate in outreach through the Society of Women in Geosciences and the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science department, as well as mentoring for the Green Shorts film competition through the Institute of Environment and Sustainability.

At NCAR I demoed for Super Science Saturday in November of 2018. While at UCSB I presented for World GIS day in November 2017, speaking to local elementary schools in Santa Barbara about mapping and how we can apply it to our oceans.

I am currently a judge for the GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium. The GLOBE program, sponsored by NSF, NASA, NOAA, and UCAR, is an international program that aims to encourage education in the scientific process. This program presents a unique opportunity for international collaboration between educators and scientists that are at the leading edge of Earth Science research.

If you’re looking to collaborate, want to talk science, or have questions about any of my work, please reach out!!