Job title and place of work
PhD Candidate at the University of Auckland.
What is your role in the CARIM project? What work package are you contributing to?
Firstly, I am involved with the maintenance of the SeaFet monitoring buoy which is deployed in the Firth of Thames, as this area has so many nutrients flowing in from the surrounding farmland it needs to be cleaned a lot more regularly than the other locations. This ensures that is accurately recording the environmental parameters that are necessary to understand the effects of ocean acidification in this area. I will also be driving the University of Auckland boat for the upcoming larger scale survey of the Firth of Thames.
Secondly, I am investigating the effect pH changes have on metals which occur in trace amounts within green lipped mussel shell. Working with the team at Cawthron in Nelson I have been looking at the how ocean acidification may impact the composition of this shell and how it may vary between genetically distinct families.
What do you do on an average work day?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as an average day! Generally, I’ll be doing one of three things. Some days I will be taking care of the lass glamorous thing on a computer like writing reports or manuscripts, or analysing data.
Some days I’ll be in the lab sorting and preparing samples or doing exciting technical stuff like firing lasers at mussels so I can find out exactly what elements have ended up mixed in with the calcium which makes up most of a shell.
Some days I’ll be doing the really fun stuff like taking boat trips out to maintain the SeaFet pH monitoring equipment we have out in the Firth of Thames or other boating or diving work for my other research projects.
Why is studying coastal acidification important?
Ocean acidification will upset the intricate balance we have in our oceans. It has the potential to change the way that everything from the smallest plankton to the largest fish grow and develop in the sea. Understanding how these things may be affected will help us take action to try and mitigate these effects.
What study did you do at high school? And after high school?
In year 13 I studied physics, biology, chemistry, history and calculus (although if I know what I know now I would have done statistics). After that I went on to study a BSc with a double major in zoology and microbiology at the University of Otago. I then completed my masters at the University of Auckland for which I examined the potential use of trace elemental fingerprinting for determining larval dispersal over small scales.
What outcomes from CARIM do you think there will be?
I think CARIM will provide insight into the impacts of ocean acidification in a New Zealand specific setting. As this research is specific to Aotearoa it would be great if it had an impact on policy makers who acted to protect and prepare OUR oceans for any OA impacts.
What excites you about working on this project?
As the impacts of ocean acidification are not fully understood I am incredibly excited about this work making an impact to further our understanding of our changing world. I believe that the more we know about any problems, the better prepared we will be to handle it or even prevent it from occurring in the first place. I also love the fact that this project brings together so many people from around the country who have diverse backgrounds and research interests.
Where do you think your contribution to CARIM and your experience as part of this project will lead you to?
This project has allowed me to collaborate with some great scientists. I hope that my involvement in this project will allow me to continue working with these people, who do amazing research, well into the future.