Spotlight: Lucia Upchurch

Research Scientist

Lucia UpchurchLucia is a Research Scientist at JISAO working jointly with the Atmospheric Chemistry Group and as an associate project manager with the TPOS 2020 Project. She began working at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in 2013, and joined JISAO in 2015.

The Atmospheric Chemistry Group is led by Trish Quinn and Tim Bates at the Sand Point campus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this group, Lucia is measuring marine aerosol composition using ion chromatography. She has been looking at ion composition from samples collected at a remote field laboratory in Barrow, Alaska. She is also quantifying the aerosol composition of samples collected from the NASA North Atlantic Aerosol and Marine Ecosystem Study (NAAMES 2) cruise that was just completed. Scientists from the PMEL Atmospheric Chemistry Group participated in both the NAAMES 1 and 2 cruises to compare seasonal variability and to quantify the effects of the spring phytoplankton bloom on marine aerosols in the North Atlantic Ocean.

As part of the TPOS 2020 project, Lucia gets to work closely with the physical and chemical oceanographers that are spearheading an evaluation and potential redesign of the Tropical Pacific Observing System. This observing system was initiated by the need to study and understand the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. The TPOS 2020 project aims to evaluate the observing system infrastructure in light of new technology, and reconsider the needed observations to improve climate models. She is also involved in the production of the 2016 Interim Report, the first of 3 reports that will synthesize the work and research needed to make recommendations for the future observing system.

Lucia sampling on shipLucia received a B.S. in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry and concentration in Marine Biology from Duke University. After college, she worked for several years as a research technician at the Duke Medical Center in a neurotoxicology lab that used zebrafish as a model to study the effects of pesticides on neural development. She earned a Master’s of Science in Marine Science from The University of Texas at Austin where she worked under the guidance of Hedy Edmonds at the UT Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, TX studying geochemical tracers of hydrothermal venting. Since grad school, she has worked in a variety of fields, including studying hydrothermal vent microbial communities, ocean tracers, and Alaska groundfish observing.

Lucia is originally from a small family farm in rural North Carolina. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2009 and Seattle in 2011 after falling in love with the natural and political environment of the Pacific Northwest on a post-grad school road trip. She enjoys sailing, kayaking, running, hiking, hot-springing, and checking out the local dog parks with her dog, Loki.