Catherine Garcia, UCI

PhD candidate, UC Irvine Earth System Science Department


Bio: Hi! I am Cathy Garcia. I am currently a PhD candidate in Earth System Science at UC Irvine. I have been at sea before, but I’m excited to return to the Indian Ocean! In April 2016, I travelled on the RV Roger Revelle to the eastern Indian Ocean to observe phytoplankton diversity and their elemental composition. I hope to learn if the regional difference I observed are also present on the I7N transect, and how the Arabian Sea compares to the Bay of Bengal. Originally I came from Massachusetts, and obtained my B.S. degree in Biology and minor in marine science at Northeastern University in Boston. While their I spent 6 weeks at sea in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer with Sea Education Association. Since then I have loved long voyages, and taken every opportunity to go back to sea. My interest in marine science started with a love of ecology and the ocean. While at Northeastern, I assisted with research on tide pool organisms, phytoplankton blooms, and food webs. I’ve been working my way down to microscopic organisms by observing marine bacteria and virus diversity in Jed Furhman’s lab at the University of Southern California, and now marine phytoplankton elemental composition as a PhD student with Adam Martiny at UC Irvine.

What I’m doing on this cruise: I am studying how different phytoplankton groups contribute to the chemical cycles in the ocean, and how their lifestyles depend on environmental conditions. I am interested how nutrient supply, temperature, and iron limitation determine which phytoplankton group is present and how they specialize to their environment. To accomplish this, I have been going on research cruises to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. By collecting phytoplankton samples from many ocean biomes, I can analyze the patterns across warm to cold ocean basins, and nutrient-rich to nutrient-poor waters. I hope that by understanding why the elemental composition of phytoplankton change, we can improve our understanding of ocean biogeochemistry.