Member since: April 27, 2012
On June 12, 2002, the world as I knew it changed. I stepped into my wetsuit, donned my mask, and stuck in my regulator as I took my first plunge into what would turn into a life long pursuit of marine conservation and research. After my first few breaths underwater, I knew I was destined to pursue a career that would enable me to explore ecosystems underneath the ocean and the different aspects of human behavior that influence these places around the world. I have had many interesting adventures in pursuit of my passion for the ocean. I became a dive instructor in Thailand after the tsunami and learned on a personal level the effects of this ecological disaster on local communities. I traveled to Nha Trang, Vietnam in my role as IUCN marine fellow to conduct a site visit to a marine protected area and learned about Vietnamese culture, coastal livelihoods and management of human activities on the ocean. With my masters research in Fiji, I was able to understand the value system and attitudes of Pacific Islanders toward marine resources, which is extremely significant when considering management and mitigation of accidental capture of marine mammals and sea turtles in fisheries. Prior to starting my PhD, I worked in Ceará, Brazil to study habitat preferences of seahorses, and learned that perseverance and patience can never be under-estimated when beginning a research project in a new language (Portuguese) and new culture. These are just several examples of the many different journeys I've had to explore my love for the oceans.
My true passion for the ocean revolves around seahorses. Since my first research into the lives of these unique fish, I have been determined to complete a PhD on seahorse populations in an effort to help with their conservation and management. I am currently a PhD student with Project Seahorse at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, on my way towards accomplishing this goal. My research interests lie in community and population ecology, specifically to address seahorse conservation, threats and management. I am currently working on how to make seahorse trade more sustainable by understanding what seahorses eat, how this enables them to grow and reproduce and if these relationships change in areas with and without fishing.
As an avid scuba diver, there is nothing I like better than searching and seeking for seahorses around the globe. After my PhD it is my intention to teach abroad at the university level. I will expand my intellectual contributions to marine conservation, contribute meaningfully to management and policy, and inspire and challenge the next generation of marine resource managers, conservationists and policy makers. The experience I gain in conducting my own research, exploring ideas of resource management with others in a foreign country, and teaching undergraduates will further my journey towards a successful career in academia and conservation.