Fulbright Visiting Student Researchers like Alejandro are doctoral students who spend six to ten months in the United States engaging in full-time research with a faculty member they select. In Alejandro's case, he identified Silsbe as a faculty member of interest after learning about the projects in which his lab was advancing the utility of unoccupied aerial sensors (a.k.a. drones) to monitor water quality in coastal and estuarine waters.
“It is, without a doubt, the perfect opportunity to grow as a scientist and learn about ocean optics from a great specialist. I couldn’t wait for the moment to start working with him,” said Roman.
“Since I was a child, I have always been curious about science. During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to explore the realms of remote sensing and machine learning. However, it was while working on my master's degree, focusing on the use of an emerging technology that utilizes drones to detect submarine groundwater discharges, that the potential of these tools truly captivated my interest,” he added.
Ocean optics involves the multidisciplinary study of how light interacts with water and the materials within it (e.g. suspended sediment, algae), including the development and use of novel imaging technologies to investigate marine and coastal environmental processes. Recently, drones have emerged as an intermediate monitoring platform between satellite imagery and ground-based sampling for water quality assessment at the highest spatial resolution to date.
During his time at the Laboratory, Roman, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Marine Sciences and Technologies at the Institute of Marine Sciences of Andalusia (ICMAN-CSIC), will be assisting Silsbe in exploring how drone technology can enhance our ability to monitor coastal water quality, through the exploration of machine learning techniques on high-resolution drone-based multispectral data, alongside measurements obtained from an autonomous coastal observatory specializing in microscopic imaging flow-cytometry and ancillary water quality metrics.
“I’m excited to have Alejandro join the lab. His research experience and skills he developed in Europe coupled with the work in which we are collaborating will really bring both groups to the forefront of this rapidly growing field of science.,” said Silsbe. “The Fulbright program is highly competitive, and this award is a testament to Alejandro’s hard work and dedication.”
Since joining the Laboratory in September, Roman has adjusted quickly to his new home in the United States. "Honestly, I feel like I'm in a bubble, and even though I expected to feel something similar, every day there's something new that exceeds my expectations," Roman said. "The amazing colors of the trees in the Fall, and the wide variety of National Parks, have pleasantly surprised me."
Roman will be working with Silsbe until February 2024. To learn more about Dr. Greg Silsbe’s research visit umces.edu/greg-silsbe.