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Spotlight On: Dr. Deidre Gibson


by Deidre Gibson

I have always been interested in science, and initially wanted to go to medical school. When I started college I knew that medicine was not what I was interested in, so I decided to take several science courses. I became certified in scuba diving, and then decided to learn more about marine science and oceanography. I have been a student and research technician in the Marine Science field since 1985. My first experience was as a student at Shoreline Community College in Seattle WA, in a program focusing on marine biology and oceanography technology. There I gained excellent field and laboratory skills, and received an A.A.S. in both areas. I continued my education and received a B.S. in Oceanography at the University of Washington. I was surrounded by leading scientist in Oceanography who both inspired me to continue in the field, and provided me with very good research skills.

Being in school for some time, I decided to work in the field as a research technician in a zooplankton and phytoplankton laboratory at the Louisiana University Marine Consortium. There I was able to advance my field, lab, independent research skills, and gain experience teaching students and the community about the marine environment of Louisiana.

Obtaining my Ph.D. in Marine Science was an obvious next step in my plan to conduct my own research and teach. Selecting the University of Georgia gave me the opportunity to work with Dr. Paffenhöfer of Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and some of the excellent scientists in the University of Georgia Marine Sciences Department. I was able to continue to gain experience at a higher level and to fine-tune my teaching skills by being a laboratory TA in Biology, where I received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award.

Now that I have obtained my Ph.D., my goal is to use the skills I have developed over the years to inspire other students. I have been given the opportunity to share my research and graduate student experiences to Savannah State University students and participants in the ASLO minority program. These experiences have encouraged me to contribute to the enhancement of minorities in the Marine Sciences.

Research is a very important part of my future goals. I have been fortunate enough to work with doliolids, a unique taxon of the zooplankton community responsible for rapid colonization of neritic environments, especially off the coast of Georgia. Doliolids (Tunicata, Thaliacea) have been over- looked as an important contributor to the marine food web because of the difficulty in obtaining life history information in the field and in the laboratory. In my dissertation studies, I have been able to successfully quantify, in the laboratory, the feeding and growth of the only sexual stage in the lifecycle, and reproduction rates of one of the two asexual stages at four food concentrations and temperatures found on the southeastern continental shelf. I plan to continue laboratory research and field studies on the various life stages of the doliolid to enhance an existing mathematical model that will increase our knowledge on how these zooplankton function in the marine environment.

I would ultimately combine research and teaching in a way to have my future students involved in all aspects of research so that they are able to gain as much field and laboratory experience as possible. The advice and experiences I have received from helpful scientists throughout my career have inspired me to do the same for young aspiring marine science students.

 Sponsored by:
NASA logoNational Aeronautics and
Space Administration

(NASA Award NCC5433)
NOAA logoNational Oceanic &
Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA Award NA06SEC4690006)

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