Megan Cimino

Polar Scientist in the Spotlight

Learn about all sorts of careers that polar scientists have as we explore their different research areas through the featured Polar Scientist of the Month.

Megan Cimino

Penguin Scientist, University of California at Santa Cruz and NOAA

What do you do?

I am a biological oceanographer researching the effects of climate change on penguins and other seabirds in Antarctica. Seabirds respond quickly to their environment so they are considered to be indicators of ecosystem health. By studying different aspects of seabird breeding and foraging behavior, my aim is to determine what factors influence their survival and population trends as their polar environment is changing.


What is the best thing about your job?

The best part about my job is being able to work in one of the most beautiful and inspiring environments with amazing scientists. Everyday in the field can be very different when using different protocols to study multiple seabird species and you never know what you might observe. This makes work very fun and exciting.

What is the most important tool you use for research?

I use a range of tools from very simple to very complex. This includes measuring devices like a ruler to measure beaks, flippers and feathers and scales to measure a bird’s weight. More complicated tools include GPS and depth recorders to understand where seabirds go to find food and how deep they dive.

Why is what you do important?

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth, and even though Antarctica seems very far away, these changes can influence the entire planet. By studying seabirds, we can figure out which environmental changes are having the greatest impact on animal lives, which can help us plan for the consequences of climate change and make conservation decisions to protect animals at risk.

Polar ICE