Allison Cusick, PhD Candidate

Project Description


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


NASA Division


Grant Status


Learning Context

Digital Learning

Neighborhood /

Informal /
Out of School

Home / Family

Citizen Science

Formal Education


As an early career scientist, having support to collaborate with great NASA Science Activation Teams truly does help bring outreach ideas to life!

Allison Cusick PRO OCEANOS PI

Allison Cusick

PhD Candidate
Biological Oceanography

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).

To learn more about the citizen science project with tour ships in Antarctica visit To learn more about Allison’s career visit

SciAct Team

OCEANOS Description

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.

Bio photo of Juan

Allison's project provides a unique opportunity to OCEANOS participants from tropical water to learn about the great biodiversity of some of the coldest waters on our planet. They will also see how their instruments are tested by citizen scientists in Antarctic waters through Allisons's initiative. Such opportunities would not have been possible without NASA SCoPE Seed Grant!

Juan Torres-Perez OCEANOS PI