Sunday, April 23, 2017

Featured Scientist: Meet Jess!

Our annual surveys would not be possible without our wonderful collaborators from around the world. We'll dedicate several future blog posts to highlight these individuals, so that you can learn more about them, their research, and the valuable contributions they make to the survey. You can find previous posts here. Today we feature Jess Scicchigno from CUNY College of Staten Island!

Jess poses with the CTD
Hi!  My name is Jessica Scicchigno and I'm going to take you on a bit of an academic wild ride.  I am currently going to graduate from the CUNY College of Staten Island in June 2017.  I am graduating with an English Bachelor of Arts and a Psychology Bachelor of Science with a minor in Geology.  So how  did an English major end up on a NOAA cruise? I'm glad you asked.

I met Professor David Lindo-Atichati in a meteorology class he was teaching at my college.  I would come into class beaming with excitement over earth science disciplines, a subject I have always been interested in. This excitement was noticed and Professor Lindo invited me on a NOAA research survey he was involved with.  I was always a huge NOAA fan and this was something I always wanted to do.  Naturally, I could not say no.  Now I am on my first oceanic cruise.

So what do I want to get out of this? I want to learn as much as possible about the instruments used to collect data.  Science is taken for granted - scientists on this ship literally work day and night.  We work in rough seas.  We work rain or shine.  We do also get sea sick!  I want to learn how to work the equipment and gain an appreciation for data collection.  You truly do not know how difficult it can be until you're doing it yourself. Simply seeing a piece of equipment in a picture can no longer do it justice after this experience.  

Ready to deploy the Bongo net -
hard hat, PFD, and tether? Check!
In addition to that, I want to know more about the Caribbean currents and how the ocean is "setup" in this region.  I want to know how the biology is influenced by this and what biology is here! Just from taking the samples with nets we have seen some amazing creatures. I want to learn, partly, the day to day life of creatures here.  When do they migrate? What do the other scientists here know about grouper migrations or spawn sites? What fish are common in what areas?  I have always loved fish, and being surrounded by people who love them just as much as I do is nothing short of amazing.  It's even more amazing to learn from them - both fish and people.

Although I have taken a very unusual path, the dreaming teenager in me could not help but tear up at the initial sight of the gorgeous Nancy Foster, sitting at the dock at 2 AM when I arrived.  This surreal atmosphere has led me back to the sciences, and I want to go deeper into oceanography for sure after this cruise.  I always wanted to do this - now I just want to do it again.

Jess models her survival "Gumby" suit during an Abandon Ship drill

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