Candidate for Member at Large: Cynthia Suchman

Cynthia Suchman

Ph.D. 1998 (Biological Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA)


Biographical Information

Cynthia SuchmanI’m a biological oceanographer with expertise in zooplankton ecology, in particular trophic dynamics of gelatinous zooplankton and small-scale biological-physical interactions. Early on, I wanted to understand the broad societal implications of our research, and I was fortunate spend a year as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources. After postdoctoral research and some early-career soul searching, I chose to pursue positions in funding organizations where my professional goals have been to serve the wider scientific community by managing science programs.

I will soon transition to a permanent position in the Biological Oceanography Program at the US National Science Foundation (NSF), where I previously served as a rotator, and from my current role as Program Director in the Office of Polar Program’s Arctic Natural Sciences Program. At NSF over the years, I have worked with colleagues to develop and implement a variety of interdisciplinary and interagency programs, including Coastal Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES), Dynamics of Coupled Socio-Environmental Systems, and U.S. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLBOEC) programs. I’ve also held positions with Virginia Sea Grant and the North Pacific Research Board, organizations that support more applied marine research and are more closely connected with stakeholder needs in coastal regions. All this is to say that my oceanographic interests are broad, I work well in a collaborative environment, and my commitment to supporting sound, forward-thinking science is genuine.

Mentoring younger scientists has always been a high priority, as I am grateful for the help and guidance others provided (and continue to provide) to me. I participate in a range of workshops and symposia each year to try to demystify the peer review process and funding programs and, at times, provide perspective and reassurance as a mid-career scientist who has taken a nontraditional path.

Candidate Statement

I am honored to have been nominated to serve as an at-large member of the ASLO Board. In the years since I’ve been an ASLO member, I’ve seen it grow and adapt and would like to contribute to the work that keeps the organization vital and relevant in the coming years. I hope that a broad scientific and management perspective, interest in interdisciplinary programs, collaborative approach, and willingness to devote the time required to be a productive colleague will make me a strong candidate for the Board.

I attended my first ASLO/Ocean Sciences meetings in the mid-late 90s at the Town and Country Hotel, which I recall as sitting in between several highways in San Diego. As a graduate student, I was also terrified. Terrified to be in a room full of people I didn’t know, terrified to approach scientists who had names I recognized from publications but I’d never met, and terrified when some of those scientists asked questions during my very first talk. In contrast, I met a graduate student attending her first Ocean Sciences in San Diego this year and was glad hear that she felt included rather than intimidated. I have been pleased to see how Ocean Sciences and its sponsoring organizations have changed to provide valuable programs for students. (I am also happy to report that after 20 years, I am no longer terrified at Ocean Sciences Meetings, though they can still be a little overwhelming).

Before writing this statement, I spent some time thinking about the purpose of ASLO and how scientific societies best serve their members. I identified: bringing members together to address scientific challenges and promote scientific excellence; facilitation of new collaborations and directions in research; inclusion and nurturing of the next generation of scientific leaders and a more diverse community; and providing platforms in the form of meetings, websites, or publications to achieve all of these. ASLO’s Guiding Principles and current Strategic Plan encompass these topics, and others. I would be privileged to help ASLO meet these goals

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