Yackar Mauzole is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in satellite oceanography, at JPL/Caltech, a NASA laboratory located in the Los Angeles area. Now in her second year, she obtained her PhD in Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island in 2017. Her research focuses on fronts at the sea surface, which are the oceanic equivalent of weather fronts observed in the atmosphere (the same ones mentioned on the weather channel). During her PhD, she established global atlases of oceanic fronts that are persistent over time, based on satellite observations. More recently, she also worked on the dynamics of thermal fronts observed in the California Current System, this time by combining sea surface temperature data to sea surface height data. While she does focus on the physical aspect of fronts, these ubiquitous features are also important for fisheries and marine ecology, since they are known to be hotspots for biological activity, and to impact the spatial distribution of nutrients across the ocean’s surface.
From her perspective however, socio-cultural diversity is not well reflected in the Oceanography: as the only Black student in graduate school for seven years, she felt lonely many times, and at odds with some of her classmates. She also came to realize how much harder pursuing a successful academic career as a woman of color was, which motivated her to reach out and connect with other women of color, but also to take part to various outreach activities, both at JPL and at Caltech. Ultimately, one of Yackar’s goals is to support and help underrepresented students navigate higher education in STEM, to help them have the same opportunities to flourish and be an integral part of the field, as others.
Online, as a member of the ESWN group on Facebook for some time now, she considers it a great resource for women in Earth Sciences. For her, everyone is part of her extended academic family, who has helped and encouraged her many times (yay for additional godmothers!).
Originally from Paris – France, Yackar came to the U.S. in 2010 to study Oceanography. What captivates her about the field is the abundance of unanswered questions, wherever you look: whether you are like her, interested in the physics of the ocean; or maybe in unknown abyssal species, living on the seafloor; or yet again concerned about the issue of microplastic pollution and its impact on the marine environment: there is so much to learn, that she feels she will never get bored studying the Ocean. Yet, she is just this kind of Oceanographer who does not eat seafood, gets severely seasick and does none of the following: fishing, sailing, surfing, and scuba-diving. Instead, she is a latte-enthusiast who enjoys Chinese calligraphy and book-binding, as well as taking care of her ever-growing house plants collection. You can find her either at the local art supplies stores, or at the Huntington Gardens taking pictures of flowers.
A recent talk from Dr. Mauzole at the Science for March event at Caltech, March 2019