Scientist Paige

A young aspiring oceanographer in the Baltic Sea, June 2017

*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. My family was obsessed with the space race. I watched the Right Stuff and just about every documentary on the Apollo missions that exists in this world. In addition, my brother and I loved the Navy. It seems strange to explain to people now, seeing that I have no family in the Navy, but we wanted nothing more to watch Victory at Sea and understand how the ocean was explored. We were always provided with spectacular books full of diagrams and cross sections of fantastic ships and submarines.

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 always took a liking to math and science, and when it came time to apply to college I knew I wanted to do oceanography. Now, I am 23 years old, 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.

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… ANYWAYS, when I entered college, I began to see the amazing utility maps could provide to my ocean research. I took classes in GIS and began to LOVE 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)

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.

Physical 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 deciding what program will be the best fit for my oceanographic interests, optimistic attitude, and desire to participate in at sea field research. I plan on starting a Ph.D. focusing on coastal physical oceanography in Fall of 2019. The thought of working on novel questions about our ocean for the next five years makes me want to BURST with excitement.

Outreach

If it is not obvious from the theme of the rest of my blog, I am completely in love with tutoring and outreach to young scientific minds. Additionally, with my current job at NCAR, I have been given opportunities to spread our research to at-risk communities. These two loves have snowballed into a serious desire to apply my scientific research to teaching and public outreach.

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.