Marina Cucuzza ’16Marina Cucuzza ’16

Monitoring climate change through ocean sediment

I was at the University of Washington in Seattle, through an institution they have there called the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, or JISAO for short… and their goal is to do science for climate change and study different effects of climate change. So everyone was doing different things and they split us up into different areas. My lab that I was put in was the fisheries acoustics lab, which was really interesting… 

“I think it’s a really valuable experience to have and I think we’re so lucky to have them encourage internships here.” 

Essentially, I got in there and worked directly under the supervisor of the lab, and he does fisheries acoustics all over the country and he gets hired to do all these different projects. I was working with this technology called Echoview, which can be used to do a lot of different things, but they basically just added this new feature onto it which was called a bottom classification feature, which [allows you to] use acoustics to look at the bottom of the ocean and figure out what type of sediment is down there.

I was actually working with data that was collected in 2013, but because this technology just came out I could go back and use that data and actually run it through the software and figure that out. So essentially I worked with him at the University of Washington and then I also worked with a woman from NOAA… She was interested in what types of organisms live in different sediments, so she was actually going to use my data…

Marina Cucuzza ’16 studied marine acoustics during an internship at the University of Washington, Seattle.Marina Cucuzza ’16 studied marine acoustics during an internship at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Using acoustics to sense location

I actually was kind of a marine science person from the beginning, but a couple years ago there was a grad student… that was doing biological acoustics with whales and she needed undergrad people to help her run through hours and hours of data. That really got me interested in acoustics just from working with her. And then this internship [got me thinking that] acoustics is a really cool field in marine science right now. Using acoustics to sense location is kind of what I’m interested in — the only other way to see what’s at the bottom of the ocean is to actually drag huge, massive machines and pull up sediment. Using acoustics to do it is so easy; you just drive the boat over and send down signals, and I’m working on using signals. It’s a more cost-efficient, time-efficient way of doing it.

Marina Cucuzza ’16 at UW Seattle.Marina Cucuzza ’16 at UW Seattle.

A valuable experience

I don’t know if I’ll do this forever, but it’s definitely a cool skill to have. After I graduate I’m going to go to grad school, eventually. I’m going to take a year and do more internships because I think they’re a really valuable way to not commit yourself for a huge chunk of time but test the waters and see if it’s what you want to do. And that was basically what this was for me — I was curious about acoustics, wasn’t sure if it was something I was super passionate about, but I definitely got the opportunity to go and try it and work in the lab for a little bit, meet really cool people in the field. I think it’s a really valuable experience to have and I think we’re so lucky to have them encourage internships here. This was my second or third internship, so I keep doing them.