... on both sides of the Pacific Ocean
What first piqued your interest in the ocean?
I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My passion and interest in marine and climate science are driven primarily by my experience growing up in the country. I started diving when I was 15 and with every dive in the tropical water, I couldn't help but feel anchored to the underwater world. After finishing high school, I worked part-time at Aquaria KLCC (Malaysia's treasured oceanarium) as an education facilitator and had the chance to peek into the science lab and learn more about the critters and fishes in our aquarium first hand from our marine biologists.
When I started reading and learning about our climate system, how its changing and its impacts on our marine ecosystem, I became more interested in physics behind our ocean’s system. I began to fathom the crucial role of the ocean not just for life underwater, but also its tattooed mark in the life and culture of our fishermen and indigenous people. And so, growing up having been in, being by, and looking at the ocean, I find myself gravitating to it in everything I do.
How did you end up majoring in Oceangraphy at UW?
Since I've always known I wanted to study the ocean, when I was offered a government sponsorship to study in the United States, I chose to go to UW. I knew UW has one of the best programs in Oceanography because of the breadth of marine research and the facilities and resources available for their students. After 3 years being part of the UW School of Oceanography, I have to say that one of the major contributors to the success of producing talented and amazing ocean scientists is the faculty members' commitment in nurturing students to achieve their maximum potential and the research opportunity that the program offers. And I'm glad I chose it!
What is one thing you are working on now?
I work in Professor Hautala's lab and play with temperature and salinity sensors that we deploy off the coast of Cascadia, New Zealand, and Alaska. I calibrated hundreds of these small (finger sized) sensors and I was (and still am) amazed at how those mini sensors could produce such high-resolution data that was pivotal in our group's mission to understand temperature and pressure signals from the seafloor.
I am also working on a collaborative education project with PhD student, Sasha Seroy, where we developed a curriculum that integrates technology in classroom science. With the curriculum, we taught high school students on how to build pH sensors and use them to monitor ocean change. It was rewarding to see how motivated and engaged the students were with understanding their local environment as they take the role of professional scientists when assembling their pH sensors.
Since I deal a lot with sensors, I become very interested in ocean technology and its application for ocean monitoring. Currently, I am exploring the realms of using sustainable and economical technology to empower communities that are impacted by climate change and use it as a tool to enforce policy making in their favor.