A statement from President Peter Goodwin on UMCES’ commitment to diversity
Paulina Huanca

Student

Paulina Huanca

Graduate Research Assistant
Student
Paulina Huanca
Graduate Research Assistant
Horn Point Laboratory

Bio

I grew up in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. In Chile, as an undergraduate, I studied the effect of ultraviolet radiation in microorganisms isolated from microbial mats located in highland wetlands in the Chilean Altiplano (Andean Plateau).  Located in the Atacama Desert, this is an extreme environment, characterized by extremely high solar radiation, salinity and aridity. Despite these extreme conditions microbial communities thrive in this environment.

I recieved my masters from the  Universität Bremen and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany, where I worked studying the interactions between phytoplankton and bacterioplankton in the Arctic ocean. I am now pursuing my Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences at UMCES, studying microbial communities that inhabit particles in another extreme environment: Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZ).

OMZ are large regions of the ocean where oxygen is almost undetectable. The microorganisms that inhabit the OMZ use other compounds like nitrate to “breathe” instead of oxygen. This process is called nitrate respiration, and causes nitrate to be removed from the ocean. This removal process does not take place in regions of the ocean that have oxygen.

OMZs are expanding globally, and it is important to understand the microbial processes that might be affected by that expansion and how these processes are shaping the Earth's oceans.

After completing my degree I am interested in working in science communication.

Advisors: Dr. Clara Fuchsman and Dr. Jacob Cram.