Faces of GCMP: Paula Ezcurra


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Paula Ezcurra

I live in San Diego, California, where I am currently studying for a Master’s in Climate Science and Policy at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Previously, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. While there, my studies were primarily focused on kelp forest ecology through monitoring work with the Santa Barbara Channel Long Term Ecological Research Lab. However, in my final year there I led a small pilot project on carbon sequestration in Mexican mangrove forests.

I became highly invested in the project after the pilot study, and continued working with the GCMP on mangrove research upon graduating. Along with several brilliant collaborators in the GCMP, I spent two years quantifying below ground carbon stored beneath different mangrove forests in Mexico. These valuable findings can be read in our recent publication. As a result of this publication, these invaluable coastal habitats have received much deserved media coverage in Mexico and beyond. This has allowed larger audiences to learn about desert mangroves and their important role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, this project broadened my research interests immensely and I hope to eventually work closely with scientists, policy makers, and local communities alike to bridge the gap between science and policy, working in unison to create lasting conservation impacts.

The most fascinating component of my research is observing how people perceive natural habitats, as well as their increased desire to protect and conserve natural areas, especially in their own community. I believe we are in a very delicate moment in terms of conservation of wildlife areas and climate change mitigation. Without efforts to educate and gain support of the general public, we will not be able to save our natural environment for our own and future generations.

When I am not knee-deep in a mangrove mudflat, I enjoy other outdoor activities such as SCUBA diving, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, backpacking, and cross country skiing. And, if I ever find myself indoors, I am likely to be reading, cooking, or, most likely, watching Netflix. Though I am constantly surrounded by inspirational mentors within the GCMP and in my life in general, my deepest motivation comes from my husband. His genuine and unrelenting passion for improving the world around us is a never-ending source of inspiration.

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