“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and grew up in a nearby coastal town where I first fell in love with the sea. I also learned first hand the impact that the health of our oceans can have on marine creatures and our quality of life, and at the age of seven I had already decided that I would be a marine ecologist/conservationist and would study dolphins and whales for a living (before I had ever seen one with my own eyes!). To this day, my career choice where I come from is not a popular one because it is not among the most lucrative. In fact, at the time there was only one institution that taught it in the entire country (and it was really far away from me). Yet, I have pursued this calling, rain or shine, in the face of skepticism and doubt (sometimes my own), many changes and challenges, and the uncertainty of the unknown. My perseverance (and divine guidance, really) has brought me this far, and I am now happy to share with the world all my knowledge and accomplishments in hopes to inspire you to preserve our oceans, its inhabitants, and pursue your dreams.
Life brought me to the United States several years ago and I lived in Chicago for a while. While in Chicago, I did the only thing I could do to follow my North Star: I volunteered at the Shedd Aquarium for a total of 10 years (combination of marine mammals and education departments) while I put myself through school. It took me 13 years to get my Bachelors degree. I earned my B.S. in Biology with a Music Minor from Northeastern Illinois University (Chicago, IL), did a year of post-bacc research in marine ecology at the University of Chicago, and most recently obtained my Masters Degree as I continue to pursue my PhD in Environmental Life Sciences at Arizona State University (yes, I moved to the desert to study dolphins and whales!) I joke that while I am still landlocked, I am working my way to the ocean and shall eventually live there again…
My research work now is multifaceted: one aspect of my work looks at theoretical ways in which conservation tools can be applied for marine mammals at the global scale, taking their environment, human activities, and protected areas into consideration. Another aspect of my work is more applied and addresses questions that are specific to cetacean population dynamics and needs. The last aspect of my research involves testing out technologies that can be used in conservation and involve data gathering with remote sensing. Together, my research projects represent a comprehensive approach to marine mammal ecology studies that can be applied for the conservation of these species, and alternatively other species that can also be protected by the conservation actions taken to protect marine mammals anywhere in the world. To read more about my work, please visit my Research page.