CFOS Students

picture of Veronica Padula

Veronica Padula

Ph.D. Student

University of Alaska Fairbanks
M.S. Fisheries
Columbia University
B.A. Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Veronica is a born and raised Jersey girl. She earned her undergraduate degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia University in New York. She discovered her passion for wildlife research during the summer between her junior and senior years, when she was a research intern for Wildlife Trust, investigating the overall health of black-crowned night herons living in the New York Harbor. Her undergrad mentor offered her a position on a project in Alaska the following year, and although she had never really considered Alaska before, she was ready for adventure and accepted the offer. It was perhaps the best decision she could have made, because she has not left Alaska since. In her 10 years since moving to Alaska, she has earned her masterís degree in fisheries and is currently pursuing her PhD. Her masterís research investigated the genetic relationships of least cisco, a whitefish species that is broadly distributed across Alaska. Her PhD research investigates the impacts of plastic marine debris on food webs in the Bering Sea. She is also currently the STEM Program Manager for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Ecosystem Conservation Office, where she helps coordinate science programs for students. She believes anyone can be a scientist, and she hopes that by spreading her love and passion for all things science, she can make the field more accessible to everyone.
  • seabirds
  • marine debris
  • microplastics
  • contaminants
  • citizen science
  • science education and outreach
Research Overview
Plastic debris is choking our ocean ecosystems, including the Bering Sea. In this region, the seabirds and their prey mistake plastics for food, resulting in exposure to harmful plastic-associated chemicals like phthalates. We do not know the extent of phthalate exposure nor their effects on seabird health. My research aims to build knowledge of phthalate exposure in Bering Sea seabirds to understand effects on reproduction, survival, and ecosystem health. As an extension to this work, we aim to integrate traditional ecological knowledge, citizen science, and scientific information to better understand marine debris trends and threats to subsistence species on St. Paul Island, Alaska.
Current Research Projects
  • Impacts of plastic marine debris on food webs in the Bering Sea
  • Aleut Community of St. Paul Island
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