Contact Us

Dr. Maria Vernet (Principal Investigator)

Dr. Maria Vernet is a Senior Research Biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Vernet has conducted research in international settings since 1987 when she first traveled to the Arctic and in 1988 to Antarctica. She participated in one of the first research teams to study the effect of ultraviolet radiation on marine phytoplankton after the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985. She has also participated in research studying free-floating icebergs and the ecosystems of the Larsen B Ice Shelf. Maria was recently awarded the prestigious AAAS Accomplished Scientist Fellow in Biological Sciences from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018.

Her field expeditions have taken her into the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and Southern Oceans with a variety of internationally assembled research teams. As a sea going oceanographer, Maria has spent enough time in Antarctica over the decades that she has lost count.

To learn more about Dr. Vernet, watch this Scientist’s Life in 99 Seconds.

Maria received her Ph.D. (1983) and M.S. (1981) in Biological Oceanography from the University of Washington and her B.S. (1975) in Biological Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Link to Maria’s CV and the Vernet Lab website.

Gabriela Lamanna

Gabriela Lamanna was raised in El Salvador, where she developed a passion for nature and the ocean that grew with her love for surfing. She graduated from a bilingual school, which gave her the opportunity to become fluent in English and pursue her bachelor’s in Marine Biology at Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College in Jupiter, Florida. She spent a semester at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, where she gained hands-on experience in academic research and data collection, and where she interned at the Dolphin Photo ID Program. For her undergraduate thesis she studied the causes of injury and illness affecting sea turtles in South Florida.

In 2016 she moved to California where she received her Masters in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She dreams of protecting the ocean through education and science storytelling. As her favorite quote by Sylvia Earle says, “Knowing is key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive actions. They might not care even if they know, but they can’t care if they are unaware”.

You can learn more about Gaby and her motivation to create films for the FjordPhyto project here.

Martina Mascioni (Graduate Student)

Martina Mascioni is a collaborating PhD student based out of Argentina at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Museum at the National University of La Plata (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Her PhD thesis work currently focuses on “First research on the phytoplankton community of Andvord Bay (Antarctica). Composition and space-time dynamics” under her advisors’ supervision, Dr. Gastón Almandoz and Dr. Maria Vernet, in the Phycology Division.

She has expertise in Antarctic phytoplankton ecology and diatom taxonomy and is a teachers assistant in a subject called “Botanic Systematic I” (Botánica Sistemática I) a subject taken by third-year biology students learning about protist and fungi biology.

She recently received the IAATO Fellowship award to come work in the Vernet Lab in San Diego. She also published her first first-author paper.

To learn more about Martina’s Career visit her profile on ResearchGate or download her CV here.

Celeste Kroeger Campodónico

Celeste grew up on the coast of central Chile, a country which more than 4,000 kilometers of linear coastline, and studied marine biology at the University of Valparaíso. She recently came to the United States to complete a Masters program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego (USA). The time went by fast and she is now living back in Chile.

As a scientist in a family of artists, she feels in her heart and brain that education, outreach, citizen science, and research share space. She has participated in projects concerning all of these areas, with NGOs and universities, always committed to finding new ways to socialize scientific knowledge and to awaken interest in socio-environmental issues.

In the same vein, together with four young women, Celeste created a foundation for marine education called “Expedición Batiscafo,” and in 2020 she co-founded the Latin-American Marine Educators Network (RELATO).

She is currently working on a visual phytoplankton identification book, highlighting the taxa commonly found in the FjordPhyto citizen science collected samples from the Western Antarctic Peninsula, designed for non-scientific audiences.

We hope to share this book with you soon!

Allison Cusick (graduate student)

Allison Cusick is a graduate student in the Biological Oceanography PhD program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She has extensive experience in the lab and at sea.

Her first expedition to Antarctica occurred in 2013 where she lived aboard the U.S. Antarctic Programs’ icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer for 53-days tracing the fate of algal carbon export in the Ross Sea. Every year since 2017 she has traveled to the Antarctic Peninsula on various tour ships running FjordPhyto as Lecturer & Scientist. She has spent more than 195 days at sea in Antarctica (nearly 6.5 months in total).

Allison received her M.A.S. (2017) in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and her B.S. (2006) in Biology with a minor in Earth and Space Sciences from the University of Washington. Link to Allison’s CV.

Fun Fact: Allison ran a marathon on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, dressed as a banana, the same day she boarded the Palmer icebreaker for a two-month expedition at sea.

Connect with us

Questions? Comments? We would love to hear from you! Follow us on Social Media @FjordPhyto on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook or send us a message at our emails:

Allison Cusick:

Martina Mascioni:

This project was supported in part by the National Science Foundation Public Participation in STEM Research (PPSR) extension to NSF award # PLR-1443705 (2017), by grant awards from Hurtigruten Foundation (2018), and from generous donors (2019). You can help us keep this project going through a financial contribution here – we appreciate all the support!

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