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Meet Andrew Parlier

Tell us a bit about your background: I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Boulder, Colorado. Like many budding engineers and scientists, my passions stemmed from my fascination with cars, airplanes, boats, buildings, bridges, and all manner of human-built objects through which we interact with and traverse our world. I pursued these passions at Stanford University where I received my BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering. After working in the energy and tech startup scene for a few years, I decided to return to school to apply my skills toward the fundamental passion that drove me towards science and engineering in the first place: using technology to understand the natural world.

What are you studying/researching? As a member of the Multiscale Ocean Dynamics (MOD) group at SIO, I develop, build, and deploy new instruments to measure physical phenomena in the ocean. Some of the least observed but most impactful processes which determine energy transport in the ocean occur at micro-scales. My research focuses on creating instruments to directly observe turbulence and mixing at depth. Mixing in the ocean has an outsize impact on climate variability, so I am designing my sensors to integrate with autonomous platforms that can be deployed more widely and cheaply and can collect data where ship-borne experiments have difficulty.

Tell us about your professional experience and campus involvement at UC San Diego: I moved into grad housing in 2019 when I started my PhD and have fallen in love with the city and the county. Through UCSD, I am involved with legislative advocacy and outreach. As one example, every year members of the Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC, a committee under GPSA) along with grad students from other universities around the nation meet with federal lawmakers to push for increased federal support for graduate students in all fields. This year, I had the chance to present arguments for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and finance reform which will benefit universities and graduate students nationwide to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office. In the local community, I promote scientific outreach through volunteering in events like the Garibaldi Bowl (a part of National Ocean Sciences Bowl) and at the Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights. In my free time, I love to explore the hiking east county has to offer, the myriad parks, museums, and attractions scattered throughout the city, and the ubiquitous, excellent cuisine.

Why UC San Diego? I chose to attend UCSD because Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the foremost, if not the foremost, oceanographic institution in the world and has some of the best talent and resources to make waves in the natural sciences. I was specifically drawn to working with the MOD group and Matthew Alford (my advisor) for their alignment with my vision of what I hope to achieve through my research.

Have you been awarded any fellowships or grants during graduate school? If so, which ones? In my first year I was supported by an SIO departmental fellowship. I was recently awarded an NDSEG fellowship which will support me and my research for the next three years.

What has been your favorite part about your graduate experience at UC San Diego? I have gotten the chance to meet some incredible people at UCSD and in San Diego, and I expect I will meet many more amazing individuals before all is said and done!