International Climate Scientist and Doctoral researcher from Mexico

With a legacy of community service and scientific research in her wake, Mariana Hill Cruz (Arctic, 2008) is surging forward towards international impact via cutting edge scientific research and modeling. She is a Doctoral researcher in Biological Oceanography at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research at the University of Kiel in Germany.

The Expedition Experience

As a young girl from Mexico City, Mariana had always dreamed about experiencing the true cold of the Arctic. When her dream came true in 2008, she described it as an overwhelming experience. She remembers one particularly vivid memory after a hike to the apex of a glacier in Sam Ford Fjord, Nunavut: “we had the chance to drink from the purest water of the planet: new-born water still running over the glacier it just melted from. The taste of the water was perfect: cold and pure.” However in that moment, as she watched it melt in isolation off into a muddy ice-free landscape, she imagined it as “a Giant bleeding to death”. This moment among others from her expedition, led her to take action.

Realizing Goals & Ambitions

After her trip, Mariana continued her educational journey by completing a Masters and now a Doctoral degree at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research at the University of Kiel in Germany. Her PhD work focuses on a coupled marine physical-biogeochemical and ecosystem model. The aim of the project is to set up an end-to-end model of the upwelling system off Peru to understand the environmental and human pressures on the ecosystem and their relationship.

“One day my voice will be strong enough to be listened to by the top leaders of the planet. I hope to be able to advise them in the best way to build a sustainable society that coexists without damaging the piece of nature that still exists.”

Making A Difference

Along her academic journey, Mariana has participated in multiple expeditions to the Baltic Sea to sample zooplankton and jellyfish during her Master’s program. She has traveled to the Mediterranean Sea to search for beaked and sperm whales. In 2020 she co-organized the largest meeting for young marine scientists in Germany – YOUMARES 11 Conference. Mariana is a leader in her community and around the world about issues she is passionate about such as climate change, family planning, and international Arctic policy. Mariana and her mother have also been using mathematical models to monitor Mexico’s greenhouse gas emissions, which she hopes will promote fuel mitigation initiatives in the country. In all of her studies, she enjoys finding new linkages between different areas of science and technology.

Looking Ahead

Currently completing a PhD in Biological Oceanography at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kielm and University of Kiel, Mariana hopes to understand as much she can about the oceans as a whole. Her goal is to then merge this understanding with climate science and then further draw ties to biological productivity using new types of modeling. Building a model that brings together physical and biological oceanography in face of climate change is her PhD challenge. “I have thought about several ideas as crazy as ‘the blood properties of deep diving cetaceans’, so I am very excited to see where this will end up”.

“And my advice to all young people: Being a good student brings many benefits, even if it is not so evident at the moment. Get used to working hard and give your best in everything you do.”