Meet Dr. Juliana Marini Marson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Geography
UM welcomes new research faculty to its Arctic research group
Dr. Juliana Marini Marson is a new faculty member at the University of Manitoba whose research focuses on the polar oceans and their interactions with the cryosphere and climate. In particular, she uses numerical models to understand how warming and increasing freshwater input to the polar and subpolar oceans can change their physical and biogeochemical characteristics. Dr. Marini Marson is fascinated by icebergs, their role in ocean dynamics and primary productivity, their patterns of drift, and how they can affect marine transportation and other offshore activities. She has specialized in iceberg modeling, and parts of her scientific efforts are dedicated to improving the numerical representation of icebergs so we can better predict their environmental impacts and trajectories. Dr. Marini Marson is conducting her research at the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS).
What is your full name, and your position?
My full name is Juliana Marini Marson, and I am an assistant professor at CEOS.
What attracted you to the University of Manitoba?
Well, I’d been looking for a tenure-track position for a while, and when this particular position opened up, I was very excited because it was exactly the type of research I wanted to do. So, I thought maybe now the stars are aligned and this will work out for me. And so it did. My husband and I moved from Brazil to Canada five years ago, and we have loved living here, no matter in which city. And once we came to Winnipeg and got to know a bit of the city, we already liked it. So, all ended up very well for me.
What would be your superpower?
I think I’d like to be as fast as Flash, just so I could visit my family in Brazil for a weekend and come back really quickly. That would be useful.
What’s your favourite place in the world?
That’s an interesting question. I’ve visited several beautiful places, but I would say my favourite place is my home, especially my bedroom. I love that moment at the end of the day when I can finally sit down on my bed and gather some thoughts and read a book or watch something to relax.
Who do you follow on social media?
Mostly my family and friends, just to keep them updated on our life in Canada. I also follow some funny pages like “Pet Portraits by Hercule” or Nathan W. Pyle – super recommend if you are not familiar with them, and some science-, animal-, parenting-related pages. But honestly, nowadays I barely have time to check out social media.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t know if this is surprising or just embarrassing. But I have a pretty hard time spelling out loud. If I have to spell something, I have to write it down first. It’s not that I don’t know the correct spelling of things, but my brain just stops working when I have to say the individual letters out loud. I don’t know if I am a tad dyslexic, but this certainly puts me in some awkward situation sometimes.
What is your main research focus?
My main research focus is studying the polar oceans – the interactions between ocean and ice and climate. I’m especially interested in how warming and increasing freshwater, especially coming from melting glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets, in the oceans. They are affecting physical processes like ocean circulation and other biogeochemical processes, such as primary productivity and carbon sequestration. And the main tools that I use to study the polar oceans are numerical models. I’m also quite interested in icebergs – their drift patterns, their physical and ecological impacts on the ocean, how these will change in the future, and how they will affect socioeconomic activities that are affected by them.
Is there a story behind what attracted you to your research area?
I decided to be an oceanographer when I was 12. That’s when I took an intensive, three-day marine biology course. I just fell in love with it and decided I wanted to study anything related to the ocean.
What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?
Ah, I think becoming a mom. Not necessarily labour, although that’s pretty difficult, but becoming a parent. I am an anxiety-driven person who likes their routine and having things under control. When a child comes into your life, all that is out of the window. Also, all the high-level math courses I’ve done were just insanely difficult because they were taught by geniuses. That’s why one of my life’s missions, to explain hard things in simple ways so everyone can understand them.
What is one experience that changed your life?
I don’t think there was this one thing that made everything change. I think every major change in my life came from a process, usually involving the search for who I am and what is my purpose in life. This long-term type of reflection really makes you focus on what is important and changes the way you see everything around you.
What is your greatest indulgence?
Ice cream? Yeah, that’s one thing that I just can’t live without.
What is your favorite movie or book?
I have several favourites, but one book that comes to mind is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, from Maya Angelou. It’s one of her autobiographies, and it’s just beautifully written. It shows what this woman had to overcome during her life and how she became an incredible person nevertheless. It’s truly inspiring. I’ve even named my daughter after Maya Angelou, and I hope she is strong as her namesake.
How do you like to relax?
Binge-watching TV shows, playing video games or reading when I have time to myself. Otherwise, playing with my daughter and petting my dog are things that help a lot to de-stress.
What are you reading or watching right now?
I’m reading a book called Erebus [by Michael Palin] which recounts the ship’s voyages and its final demise in the Northwest Passage. It’s quite interesting getting to know the people whose names were used to name straits, channels, and sounds in the Canadian Arctic.
What is your greatest fear?
Maybe one fear is dying without doing something meaningful for other people. The other one is regarding the safety of my daughter. That’s a normal maternal fear, I guess.
If you’re singing karaoke, what would your song be?
Ah, probably a nursery rhyme since those are high up on my playlist right now! Five little ducks?
What is your most treasured possession?
My computer – it was the first one I built and it has everything I wanted in terms of configuration, so I can use it both for work and for gaming.
What personal trait are you most grateful for having?
I’m patient. I’m very patient. I’m really grateful for that, especially now with the pandemic when we have to spend all day at home with family.
What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
Oh, wow. I would say my three grandparents who have passed away. I barely knew my grandfather on my father’s side when he passed. So that would be a great opportunity to know him better. But I grew up with both my grandparents on my mother’s side, and I just miss them so much.
What would you say is your best quality? And what would you say is your worst?
My best quality is that I’m very organized with my work stuff. All my notes are very neat, and I usually have all my ducks in a row work-wise. My worst quality is that I’m not super organized with my personal stuff. I leave things in places they don’t belong – I function well in a kind of organized mess, if you will. But my husband is a neat-freak, so he gets a bit cranky with me sometimes.
If you did not take this career path, what would you have chosen?
I’d have chosen music if not oceanography by the time I finished high school. I played the clarinet for a long, long time and I loved it very much. But if you asked me what other path I’d choose today, I’d say computer science or astrophysics.