Alfredo Giron is a fifth-year PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. He was born and raised in Mexico City, where he lived until the end of high school. Giron first moved to La Paz, Baja California where he studied marine biology, then transferred to the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in Ensenada to study oceanography.
Giron is now in the biological oceanography program at Scripps where he conducts research on fishery sustainability in the Gulf of California in the labs of Octavio Aburto and George Sugihara. We talked to Giron to find out what made him choose Scripps, what sparked his passion for oceanography, and more.
explorations now: Why did you choose to attend Scripps to pursue a PhD?
Alfredo Giron: Scripps is a major oceanographic institution in the world, and since the start of my undergraduate studies I always dreamed of coming here to pursue my PhD.
en: What are you researching at Scripps?
AG: I study fisheries in the Gulf of California and how sustainable they are. I have also estimated how much revenues fisheries generate in the region, and how do they compare to poverty thresholds.
en: Does your research ever take you out in the field?
AG: Yes, and I love it! Part of my research also includes estimating the health of the rocky reefs in the Gulf of California in relation to fisheries and Marine Protected Areas. We spend the summers diving from Cabo San Lucas to Bahía de los Ángeles counting fish and invertebrates. You can see some footage of this research in this video.
en: What tools do you use to conduct your research?
AG: Once I get back from the field, I do a lot of data processing back at my office. This includes querying for publicly available data, as well as data collected by other research groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) both in Mexico and the U.S. I spend a great portion of my time cleaning those datasets and making sure that they can communicate with each other. I also make sure that the clean versions are made publicly available through our science communication platform DataMares. Once I am done with the data cleaning, I run different models to estimate the total revenues that fisheries generate and how it compares to economic thresholds for well-being. Part of this research has already been published and you can read about it on the Scripps website, Crónica, and more.
en: What’s life like as a Scripps student?
AG: My typical day includes a lot of answering emails early in the morning, followed by a couple of meetings and time for reading, writing or analyzing data. I try to read for at least 30 minutes per day. I also travel a lot to conferences, meetings, and workshops both in the United States and other countries. I am very lucky that my work involves getting to explore many cool places.
en: What’s the most exciting thing about your work?
AG: I am really excited to study problems that affect both ecosystems and coastal communities. I am always excited to look for venues to share my research that could generate an impact in the way that we manage fisheries or think about sustainability.
en: Are there any role models or mentors who have helped you along the way?
AG: Octavio has been a role model when it comes to applicable science and the strategies it takes to get it to the correct target audiences. Additionally George Sugihara has influenced me a lot in the way I think about scientific problems, always trying to highlight the importance of data collection and data-driven science. I also had wonderful PhD student (Natalya Gallo) and postdoctoral (Andrew Johnson) mentors who helped me navigate Scripps and science in general.
en: What are some of the challenges you face as a student?
AG: Time management is always a challenge. This is not only evident when dealing with deadlines, but also when managing the balance between personal and work life.
en: What are your plans?
AG: I want to get a postdoctoral position at an institution that allows me to keep expanding my research on the social-ecological system.
About Scripps Oceanography
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year.
About UC San Diego
At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at www.ucsd.edu.