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Featured Student: CAROLINA ERNANI da SILVA

Carolina at work

    I grew up in a very big and busy city in Brazil. As you can imagine, São Paulo is not the kind of city where nature is close to our homes. However, I’ve always been interested in marine animals, such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. I basically grew up watching discovery channel documentaries and scientific TV shows about oceans.  This is how my passion for the ocean was born. When I needed to choose a professional career it was not that hard because I knew that it would be related to the marine environment. I did my undergraduate studies in oceanography at the University of São Paulo - Oceanographic Institute. I had the opportunity to take lectures in the four areas of oceanography – physical, biological, geological and chemical. Despite my passion for marine animals, the idea of predicting sea level rise, climate change and understanding circulation patterns in the ocean made me to choose physical oceanography. During the undergraduate program, I did internships, which I could learn not only about physical oceanography but also about research methods and science in general. These projects showed me that research questions take some time to be answered and a one-year project would not be enough to have the complete answers. Thus, the natural step was looking for a Master Degree Program. I chose the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia (UGA) to pursue my graduate studies.

    Currently, I am working with Dr. Renato Castelao as a Master graduate student. I am interested in coastal oceanography. My project focuses on describing the seasonality of the Mississippi River Plume and its interaction with the circulation of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The importance of characterizing the dynamics in this region is the improvement of numerical models to, for example, better predict the fate of the oil during a spill. Also, it can deepen the understanding about hypoxia events – when the GoM coastal waters reach really low levels of oxygen. In this project, I had the opportunity to work with remote sensing data and simulate scenarios using the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). During my time at UGA, I also participated in a research cruise where I deployed 14 drifters in the South Atlantic Bight (Georgia Coast) to investigate circulation patterns in the region. A funny story about this experiment: a fisherman captured one of the drifters and he was using it as a chair to fishing. What did I learn about this? Well, sometimes our research does not work as expected, but at least you can laugh about it. The experience that I am having at UGA motivated me to continue in academia and to contribute to improving my field.

    During my spare time, I like traveling to places where history and nature are the main attractions, watch some TV series, and Skype with my Brazilian friends and family.


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