Friday, April 21, 2017

Featured Scientist: Meet Vanessa!

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 Vanessa McKague from the University of the Virgin Islands!

Vanessa runs the CTD in the dry lab on Easter Sunday
Hi everyone! I'm Vanessa McKague, Oceanographic Technician from the University of the Virgin Islands! I am also a new mother of an 8 month old boy.  Having a child really changes so much in your life and most of all your priorities change dramatically.  But because I love my job and what I do, I wouldn't want to have to choose between them. I am learning as I go along but I am trying my best to be both a great mother and a productive scientist. I love being an Oceanographic Technician because I get to do all of the hands on science that I love. I work with many oceanographic instruments (i.e., CTDs, ADCPs) and perform calibrations and maintenance as well as program them for deployments and process the data. On this cruise I have been running the CTD rosette.  I work in the dry lab on the computer using Seasave software to view the ocean profile data in real time and to collect water samples in the niskin bottles at the surface and at the deep chlorophyll maximum.

Vanessa decked out in safety gear on the back deck.
At UVI, I work with Dr. Sennai Habtes (who is also on this cruise) in the Oceanography Laboratory.  One great opportunity that I recently had was to take a Larval Fish Identification Course.  I have not had previous experience doing this so it was such a great learning experience for me.  It was very hands on and we all had microscopes to look at all of the samples.  My favorite part of the course was taking an unknown sample and using the skills that we had gained to identify the larval fish species.

Colton helps Mom learn how to identify larval fish! 
What I want to get out of the cruise: Deploying the mooring for the relocation of the St. Thomas CariCOOS/VI-EPSCoR oceanographic buoy. The original location was south of St. Thomas, but now we will have real time oceanographic data northwest of St. Thomas.  It will be the first oceanographic buoy located north of the Virgin Islands in the Atlantic Ocean!  We successfully deployed the anchor and chain with surface buoy markers on the first day of the cruise.  We will then go back out on a calm day in a smaller vessel and use commercial divers to attach the buoy and inspect the site.

Secondly, I just want to be out to sea doing science!  This is one of the best parts of my job and I look forward to this opportunity.  It is a time to focus on collecting data and to talk to other scientists without interruptions of everyday life.  We are all living out here together so there are plenty opportunities to learn from each other and to come up with new ideas and projects for future work.


  1. Very proud of you V! You're an amazing scientist and mother!

  2. Girl, yes! I'm so proud of you!

  3. You're the greatest! Love to you all.

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