Candidate For Student Board Member: Edna Fernandez-Figueroa

Edna Fernandez-Figueroa

Ph.D. expected 2021 (Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Ecology, Auburn University, USA)


Biographical Information

Edna Fernandez-FigueroaI graduated with a Bachelor’s in Marine Sciences from Eckerd College and went on to work on coral restoration and trophic dynamics research projects for several years before joining Dr. Alan Wilson’s Aquatic Ecology Lab at Auburn University. As a Ph.D. student, I use remote sensing tools such as unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) to track the extent and intensity of harmful algal blooms in highly productive aquatic systems. The next steps of my research involve tracking primary productivity from headwaters to coastal systems, a project that was inspired by ASLO’s integrated approach to aquatic sciences. I greatly enjoy mentoring undergraduate students through our lab's REU program and participating in outreach, particularly those that engage underserved minorities such as incarcerated individuals. My interest in science communication led me to work as an ASLO Science Communication and Policy intern, where I became familiar with the inner workings of ASLO's publications, conferences, and professional development programs. Working for ASLO was eye-opening because I learned how this society is kept running by committed professionals who take time out of their busy schedules to volunteer as board members, editors, and mentors. I hope to continue serving ASLO after earning my Ph.D. by volunteering as an associate editor for one of ALSO's journals and as a mentor for undergraduate students at meetings.

Candidate Statement

ASLO has a unique way of connecting scholars of different backgrounds, career stages, and across the freshwater to marine continuum. My admiration and commitment to ASLO grew when I had the unique opportunity to be the Winter 2018 ASLO Science Communication and Policy Intern, where I was able to work closely with Dr. Adrienne Sponberg to keep our members connected. As an intern, one of my main responsibilities was to synthesize the 2018 ASLO Member Survey, which allowed me to learn about our member’s concerns related to ASLO conferences, meetings, publications, professional development opportunities, and society culture. From the survey, I learned that our members join ASLO for the conferences and to be part of a community, but many felt ASLO needed to strengthen our international representation and inclusion. As a Latin scientist, I have always felt comfortable and welcome at ASLO, and I want to ensure other minorities feel the same way. Additionally, because many of our members join to attend meetings, international participation is likely reliant on whether potential members can physically attend ASLO conferences. Sharing our plenary talks online and having an active presence on social media play an important role in connecting members, but as a board member, I would like to explore some creative approaches to increase international member inclusion year-round and regardless of meeting attendance.

ASLO Student and Early Career members expressed interest in employment outside of academia and are searching for tools to do so. One of my main goals as a Student Board Member would be to provide resources for these members at conferences and connect them with non-academic professionals so our students can pursue any limnology and oceanography related career they choose. Furthermore, I would like to work with ASLO to create a space at conferences and journals to retain these non-academic members after we arm them with professional development tools, to increase professional diversity in our society. I would also like to create a space for students to learn from each other at meetings by implementing a peer mentoring program in which undergraduates are paired with a graduate student that can provide guidance related to graduate school and research.

ASLO’s publications and associated social media platforms are great tools for connecting members. As an intern, I had the privilege of attending the ASLO Editors Strategy Day Meeting with our Wiley partners where I was able to learn about each Editor in Chief’s concerns, challenges, and goals. It would be great to create a space for our editors to connect with our student and Early Career members at meetings to highlight the importance of publishing and volunteering as associate editors in our society’s journals.

I hope to have the opportunity to see the ideas inspired by our members come to fruition as a board member. Regardless of the results of the elections, I will continue to volunteer, publish and connect with the ASLO community. Thanks for voting!

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