Not every marine scientist has the same origin story. Some are instantly enthralled by the ocean and its many inhabitants at a ripe young age.
Not every marine scientist has the same origin story. Some are instantly enthralled by the ocean and its many inhabitants at a ripe young age. For others, a lightbulb goes off while sitting in an undergraduate class. Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Kate Hewett grew up on the islands of Micronesia, but did not consider a career in marine sciences until graduate school. While working as an environmental engineer in Boston, Massachusetts, she decided to go back to school to develop a deeper understanding of the environmental problems she encountered at work. In her classes, the complicated physics associated with coastal zones pulled at Hewett’s engineering heartstrings.
Now she studies ocean dynamics at Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries. As a University of California, Davis Ph.D. student, Hewett uses data from moored sensors to monitor and understand oxygen dynamics in sanctuary waters. She’s interested in understanding those dynamics in northern California national marine sanctuaries, as well as how factors can change and drive low-oxygen conditions that threaten marine life.
“I’m motivated to study oxygen dynamics because oxygen impacts everything,” Hewett says. “It impacts recreation, tourism, and physiology.”
On the West Coast, ecosystems along the California Current system experience seasonal upwelling, when strong, persistent northwesterly winds drive cold, deep waters toward the surface. Because these upwelling events can influence the amount of oxygen in the water, Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries monitor oxygen content in collaboration with University of California, Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab.
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Image via NOAA.