My path to graduate studies in marine ecology has been a winding journey as my diverse interests consolidated into my current career goals. I never planned on becoming a scientist while I was in high school and even into college. Instead, I wanted to be a writer, more specifically, a journalist for National Geographic. As a writer, I wanted to communicate scientific issues, like climate change and environmental degradation to the general public. I got my degree in in English in 2003 to pursue this goal. However, as I got older, my priorities shifted and I found that more and more I wanted to be the scientist investigating the questions. So, I went back to school and got a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and entered the graduate program at UCSC.
I now study the behavioral ecology of marine mammals, in particular northern elephant seals. The goal of my research is to investigate the complex relationships between diet, foraging behavior, and climate change for marine predators. One of the central questions I am interested in addressing is: What is the average diet for northern elephant seals and how is diet affected by climate variability in the North Pacific?
My research has given me incredible opportunities that I could have never have dreamed of while I was in high school. I have worked with northern elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Reserve and traveled to the middle of the North Pacific ocean to collect fish and squid samples for my research. As a SCWIBLES fellow, I hope to inspire students to pursue their dreams by sharing my experiences and passion for science and nature.
Contact Chandra: firstname.lastname@example.org