Macarena Martín Mayor is studying for a doctorate in marine science at the University of South Florida, USA. She tells us about her research into ocean CO2 levels, and the people and inspirations that keep her motivated.
My work is in the area of marine CO2 system chemistry, centered around the development of a novel, compact device for simplifying CO2 system measurements. We’re aiming to demonstrate the efficacy of the device in obtaining data without using acids and volumetric/gravimetric measurements. This will make it easier to track anthropogenic acidification in our oceans and hopefully will also help develop measurements to limit CO2 emissions.
With my lab, I’m currently preparing to join a research cruise where we will be in charge of collecting sea water pH samples using a spectrophotometer. These measurements are essential for the study of the ongoing acidification in the ocean and all the data is openly available for scientists to use. My ultimate inspiration is knowing that my research will help climate change reports and hopefully will make an influence on those communities most affected by it! I find daily motivation in talking to my friends and family about my research. The community is interested in our science, we just have to present it to them! And as an open water swimmer, it also helps me see how I can give to the ocean back all the peace it gives me.
It is vital for me to communicate my work to others because I want them to be aware of how important science is in our community. Scientific research tends to be seen as "too hard to be understood", and that is why science communication is such an important tool to help non-scientists see what the world is going through and how we can change things. Moreover, seeing others fascinated and interested in what I do motivates me to keep doing it. My grandpa often tells me how cool it is that I have the opportunity to do ocean chemistry on a boat and then in the lab, and his excitement feeds my own excitement and desire to keep working.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: A positive mindset is absolutely necessary in order to be able to achieve the Next Great Impossible, but so is a realistically informed mindset. In graduate school many of us struggle with imposter syndrome. I often doubt my abilities, but it is important to remember that nobody is born knowing everything and your colleagues want to help you succeed. I am a very positive person - I think that in every failure or mistake there is a lesson to be learned. Being curious and driven to make change are key to making discoveries!