Author: Laura Griffiths
Emergent is a five-part blog series that takes a fresh look at ARI’s early career researchers – a group of driven, passionate people with a shared sense of responsibility about our changing world. These emerging scholars are developing skills and applying them to real world issues. Some are even taking opportunities to fulfil their life-long dreams.
Today, we focus on Carolina Olguin Jacobson, a spirited Mexican who’s first experience in Australia was as a PhD student at ARI, starting in 2017. Carolina is part of a ecologists team leading jellyfish research at the new Griffith Sea Jellies Research Lab – a partnership between Griffith University and Sea World. Carolina’s work looks at the effects of pollution on the offspring of exposed jellyfish.
It’s important to understand how all anthropogenic stressors present in our waters, like pesticides, heavy metals and plastics, affect aquatic animals as humans are the main cause of this pollution so we have a responsibility to know what effects we are causing.
What is your favourite aspect about your research?
I really enjoy working with polyps, which are the tiniest phase in the jellyfish life cycle. Watching them grow, reproduce and feed is mesmerising, I could pass hours at the microscope just looking at their behaviour.
Why does your work matter?
It’s important to understand how all anthropogenic stressors present in our waters, like pesticides, heavy metals and plastics, affect aquatic animals as humans are the main cause of this pollution so we have a responsibility to know what effects we are causing. Jellyfish are important for the marine ecosystem as they are the main food source for different animals like Sun fish or sea turtles who can bioaccumulate heavy metals.
Where do you get your inspiration?
The ocean has a magic effect on me – its calming, inspiring and is my happy place. So, when I realised how our oceans are changing from pollution, overfishing and climate change, I felt an enormous urge to understand it and play my part in trying to help.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
I just finished my second experiment for my PhD and after all I’ve been through, to get to this point is just wonderful.
Where do you see your career taking you or where would you like to be in 5 years?
Five years seems like a long time away but … I would like to be doing either science communication with kids or continuing my research with other marine organisms.
What continues to challenge you?
All the things that are undiscovered yet… Sometimes I feel like a 5 year old child again because I get amazed with everything I do and see. That thirst is what keeps me going. What if these jellies behave different? What if their baby jellies don’t? All that.
What would you say to inspire other HDRs?
Your research is like a person. It changes, a lot! Really believe in yourself and in your ideas because getting to where we are now is not by baking cookies. Like I always say “IT’S ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE BABY!”
- Find research and study opportunities at ARI
- Visit the Sea Jellies exhibit at Sea World
- Learn more about Caro’s research here
- Learn more about jellyfish at https://www.jellipedia.com.au/