Meet Our Young Scientists
The PIFSC Young Scientist Opportunity offers professional scientific research experience and formal training opportunities for qualified participants tailored to meet their educational and professional goals and interests.
The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Young Scientist Opportunity (PYSO) is a collaborative program with the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Isabelle Cunitz, University of Oklahoma
This summer, I worked with the Advanced Technologies Program to design and implement the addition of artificial lighting to the Modular Optical Underwater Survey System stereo-camera apparatus. I worked with Dianna Miller, Jeremy Taylor, and Dr. Ruhul Amin on this project. Some of the “Deep 7” bottomfish of Hawai‘i, specifically onaga (Etelis coruscans), inhabit waters too deep for underwater camera systems that rely on ambient light. Effectively illuminating the fish for video recording, while minimizing behavioral impact, is crucial to accurately monitor, assess, and conserve these fish populations with fisheries-independent survey techniques.
I will continue my education with a doctoral degree and pursue a research career, integrating my passions for the environment, engineering, and science to address environmental challenges such as climate change through renewable energy and sustainability technologies. International options for graduate school and research especially interest me, as approaching sustainability issues from a global perspective is essential to maximize progress. The PYSO internship was a truly wonderful experience as I move toward this future career. Thank you to the Advanced Technologies Program, the Science Operations Division, and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center—I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.
Maegha Lanka, Duke University
This summer, I am thrilled to be translating my acoustics research experience to the marine environment! As a Cetacean Research Program intern in the Protected Species Division, I am working with Dr. Ann Allen to identify fin whale song recorded by High-Frequency Acoustic Recording Packages (or HARPs) in order to collect spatial and temporal occurrence data for this species. This data will also be used as part of a machine learning task to enable Google to identify fin whale song, in order to make acoustic analyses more efficient. As part of my internship, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to sail on the Mariana Archipelago Cetacean Survey research expedition, in which I will gain experience in a broader range of cetacean field research methods. The PYSO program has been an amazing opportunity for me to gain relevant, applied research experience and I can’t wait to see what future opportunities this summer leads to!