Natalia Galud Erazo
Ph.D. expected 2024 Biological Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
I was born and raised in Ecuador. I moved to the United States to pursue academic training. I completed my undergraduate degree at Columbia University in Environmental Biology where I became passionate about microbial communities in marine ecosystems. Now, I’m a PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography interested in understanding how the microbial community composition impacts biogeochemical processing and influences the resilience and resistance of marine ecosystem functions. I’m currently studying the microbial community structure in mangrove forests to better understand the links between mangrove’s health and its microbiome in coastal Ecuador. Here, mangrove forests are a fragile ecosystem impacted by land use changes and a better understanding of the microbial community is needed to restore and protect these forests.
As a coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Forum on Environmental Research (IFER) at Scripps, I’m working with students from different disciplines to understand environmental issues and how they intersect with social, economic, and political networks. I’m interested in conservation policy, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and how more interdisciplinary and collaborative research can help us address challenges associated with climate change.
I’m passionate about finding ways to communicate science particularly to younger generations. I have been involved in developing an educational initiative consisting of a mangrove and coastal ecosystem curriculum to increase the awareness of the unprecedented problems of mangrove loss. I’m working with members of local communities in Ecuador to incorporate community and ancestral knowledge to actively involve members of the community in educating future generations and to preserve that knowledge.
I am involved in various outreach and education programs at Scripps. I’ve been working on an initiative aimed at raising awareness about plastic pollution by exposing non-traditional college students to hands-on experiments to examine the microbial community composition that colonizes and degrades plastics in coastal ecosystems. I volunteer at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps where I have the opportunity to interact with kids and teach them about the importance of our oceans.
Greenhouse emissions have changed the balance in various ecosystems. The last IPCC report warns us about the impacts of climate change and the need to address changes in the ocean and the cryosphere. We live in a time where our oceans are becoming warmer, acidic, less productive, and melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise.
I believe that international collaboration and promoting diversity ‘across discipline, country, socioeconomic status, gender and ethnicity’ are crucial components of ASLO that can advance science, and help us work together as a community to protect our oceans and address climate change. ASLO Multicultural Program (ASLOMP) and the Global Outreach Initiative are two programs that strive to foster collaboration and diversity. I hope to contribute to these two initiatives by working with students to find avenues to continue to foster collaboration between the USA and other countries, and to help build capacity in developing countries by promoting a diverse scientific community. The ASLOMP mission in fostering a multicultural perspective can empower young scientists, and it can allow for more visibility of minorities in the scientific arena. I hope to promote programs such as these ones to help create a more inclusive environment.
I want to work with students and start a conversation on how scientists can translate scientific research to a much wider community and policy makers. Translating scientific findings is essential to help shape local and global policy to address environmental problems.
As a scientist in training and student I had the opportunity to present my work during ASLO meetings (2019, 2020). I participated in the mentoring program that allowed me to meet senior scientists, and this experience has been pivotal in my development as a scientist and to my research. During the last Ocean Sciences meeting 2020, I became involved in the mentoring program for high school students. This opportunity allowed me to meet motivated and passionate students from all over the USA. I believe that the mentoring opportunities offered by ASLO are key to creating student networks and training the new generation of scientists that will tackle climate change and find sustainable solutions to keep our oceans healthy. I have experienced the greatest resources that ASLO has to offer to students, and I want to help ASLO do its part in bringing meaningful change to address the scientific, social economic, and technological challenges ahead.