Testimonial – Priscila Lange (Brazil)
My name is Priscila Kienteca Lange, I am a Brazilian marine biologist specialized in marine phytoplankton ecology. Here I tell my story about how POGO completely changed my professional path and my scientific career through the opportunities, mentorship and motivation offered to developing countries’ ocean science students.
I have a background in marine biology, having my B.Sc. and M.Sc. research focused on the ecology of marine phytoplankton in coastal areas of Antarctica. After completing my M.Sc. studies, my interest in phytoplankton of offshore waters induced me to seek for additional knowledge on oceanography, which led me to apply for the NF-POGO Training Course in Operational Oceanography held at the Centre of Excellence (CofE), at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) between 2011 and 2012. This was the beginning of a long-lasting story of guidance and inspiration by POGO members and initiatives.
The NF-POGO CofE experience broadened my view about the ocean in an unprecedented way. The course filled my gaps of knowledge in the fields of physical and chemical oceanography, and significantly improved my scientific writing and presenting skills. There, I made friends for life, and many of them also became scientific collaborators. Sharing the time and tasks with amazing people from countries with such different cultures was very enriching and it made me a better person and a better scientist. It also allowed me to become part of the NANO alumni network, with which I interact constantly. In Bermuda, there was a turning point in my scientific career: I was introduced to the world marine optics by the amazing mentors Dr. Shubha Sathyendranath and Dr. Trevor Platt, who stimulated me to apply for a POGO Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) Fellowship and introduced me to my future Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Heather Bouman.
After completing the NF-POGO CofE course and additional two months of internship at BIOS’s Phytoplankton Ecology and Biogeochemistry Laboratory, with Dr. Michael Lomas, I was selected to go onboard the AMT in 2012 (AMT22), with a project supervised by Dr. Gavin Tilstone (Plymouth Marine Laboratory – PML). The AMT shipboard training introduced me to amazing scientists such as Dr. Robert Brewin, Dr. Giorgio Dall’Olmo, Dr. Tilstone (PML) and Dr. Mikhail Zubkov, with whom I collaborated in the following years and co-authored four scientific manuscripts of the research done on AMT22. This experience changed my life, and made me fall in love with doing research onboard.
Following the POGO shipboard training, I started my Ph.D. (D.Phil.) at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, endorsed by Dr. Sathyendranath and Dr. Platt and sponsored by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). My Ph.D. thesis focused on remote sensing techniques to estimate the biomass of picophytoplankton at the surface ocean using satellites, and was developed based on samples I collected in the following 3 AMT cruises, now as part of Dr. Zubkov’s team.
The opportunities and mentorship offered by POGO allowed me not only to start my Ph.D. but also to develop my thesis on AMT cruises. POGO showed me a life-changing career path that would never be possible without their support, and I am forever thankful and very honoured! The experience gained on POGO courses and the career path led by this experience allowed me to conduct my post-doctoral research at the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), developing and evaluating phytoplankton satellite algorithms based on hyperspectral ocean colour data for the mission Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystems (PACE).
The opportunities offered to students countries and early career scientists of developing really change lives and improves the quality of ocean science research in these countries. It also allows crucial collaborations and further dissemination of knowledge. Thank you POGO, for training me to be one of these seeds of international collaboration and knowledge dissemination, and for preparing me to pursue my professional dreams!