Allison Cusick, PhD Candidate
2022 Seed Grant Awardee
PRO OCEANOS centers on demonstrating the connectedness of marine ecosystems and Antarctica's role in the health of our planet, PRO OCEANOS will introduce Puerto Rican students to FjordPhyto sampling protocols that gather data on water properties such as salinity, temperature, chlorophyll-a, meltwater, and ocean color and draw comparison between the Caribbean and Antarctic ecosystems.
PRO OCEANOS aims to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM through shared experiences with FjordPhyto researchers and their path as first-generation university and Latin American graduate students. In this way, younger generations can feel connected to their local coasts, polar oceans, and want to be a part of the decisions that affect our planet. PRO OCEANOS will make oceans more inviting, more accessible, and bring the oceans to more youth.
Target Audience Age
Out of School
Home / Family
PRO OCEANOS PI
Allison is from Seattle, Washington, and now lives in California pursuing her Ph.D. at Scripps Oceanography. She studies phytoplankton in polar fjords and manages the citizen science project FjordPhyto, engaging travelers in cutting edge polar research. The samples collected by citizen scientists on tour vessels helps the Vernet Lab to understand the phenology (or seasonal changes) of phytoplankton along the Antarctic Peninsula and how freshwater may influence community composition from November through March. Allison first traveled to Antarctica in 2013 aboard the RV Nathaniel B Palmer ice-breaker in the Ross Sea and since 2017, has visited the western Peninsula every season with tour vessels lecturing on board, and training tour expedition ship staff to run the citizen science project. Allison holds an M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2017) and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington (2006).
The OCEANOS project centers on the hypothesis of: NASA Observations and science coupled with low-cost in-water instrumentation can significantly increase STEM education and enthusiasm among low-income 1st generation Hispanic/Latino students, particularly in regard to oceanographic and coastal issues. Our goal is to use combined NASA ocean color data and in situ oceanographic parameters to improve the capacity and awareness among low-income students on how these two can be used to monitor water quality affecting coastal shallow-water marine ecosystems in Caribbean waters.