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Meet Elena Flores, Graduate Scholar

September 07, 2021

Part of the Faces of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center series.

Elena Flores sitting in a kayak visiting mangrove sites in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Visiting mangrove sites in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Elena Flores.

Where did you grow up? 

I was born in Brownsville, Texas and I grew up in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. 

Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?

I have a Bachelors in Biology. I’m currently working on my Masters degree in Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. My thesis research is on coastal conservation investigating eutrophication effects on Black mangrove and soil gas fluxes in eutrophicated coastal blue carbon in South Texas.

Elena Flores performs field work with Black mangrove shrubs at Boca Chica beach, South Texas.
Field work with Black mangrove shrubs at Boca Chica beach, South Texas. Photo courtesy of Elena Flores.

How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?

NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (CCME) is funded by NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions to educate and train new generations of scientists, particularly from underrepresented minority communities. My school is one of the five partner universities. One of the requirements of this program is to complete a 12-week internship at a NOAA facility. I became a NOAA CCME scholar in June 2020 and I started working at the science center’s Galveston facility in July 2021. 

What do you do at the science center?

I’m currently conducting shrimp experiments to evaluate a new tag used in shrimp. These visible marks will help monitor shrimp growth over time. I monitor retention rate, and visibility of the tags, as well as shrimp survival. Our field sites are mainly in coastal marshes, mangroves, and oyster reefs. My lab group and I perform other duties such as rehabilitating the wet lab facility, conducting field work, boat maintenance, and helping with other shrimp projects. 

Elena Flores, Jennifer Doerr, and John Everhart in a boat traveling to a field site in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
I started my NOAA internship doing field work in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Here we are traveling to a field site, I am on the right, Jennifer Doerr is in the middle and John Everhart is on the left. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Elena Flores.

What do you like most about your position?

I appreciate having the privilege of learning from experienced researchers and getting immersed in fisheries science research. I really enjoy fieldwork and finding creatures every time out there. I’m grateful for having fun and working with my enthusiastic labmates. 

What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month is a good reminder to acknowledge where I came from and feel proud of where I am today. I recognize diversity plays an important role and integrating different ethnic groups into science helps us build a more collaborative input for better decisions. It helps us recognize that it doesn’t matter where you came from while trying to conserve our planet. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like swimming and scuba diving. I love traveling and trying out different adventure activities with friends. Photography and puzzles are also hobbies that I really enjoy!

Elena Flores stand on a beach with Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles during “Arribada”(the arrival) May 2018 in Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle “Arribada”(the arrival) May 2018 in Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Photo provided courtesy of Elena Flores.

Elena has completed her internship with the center. Fare well, Elena!

Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on October 06, 2023