Amanda Alva

Welcome to my page!

I’m Amanda, an outdoor lover with a soft spot for marine ecosystems. For contact info and more detailed expertise, please see my CV. To keep up with my travels, zero waste journey, vegan recipes, and scientific work follow my Instagram at @ecologicalamanda.

About Me

I had the privilege of having two parents who were in love with traveling to natural “wild” places and national parks. I have been to 15! While I appreciate every niche environment I have visited, I always found myself feeling the most at home near water. I attended the University of Texas at Austin for my undergraduate degree. Although I was not completely sure what major I wanted to specify in, I did know I wanted a career that would enable me to be a steward for protecting the natural systems and organisms I’d fallen in love with over my lifetime.

At the end of my sophomore year, I saw a sign about a branch of the university situated on the coast and I joined the Marine and Freshwater Science cohort. I also decided to participate in the Bridging Disciplines Program, an interdisciplinary program that allowed me to take classes that tied environmental concerns with those of our human societies and tackled issues such as environmental racism, ecotourism colonialism, and spatial disparities on top of my core STEM courses. I believe it is time to realize that any good scientist should have a good handle on the humanities side of our discipline and that humans play a substantial role in our ecosystems, whether we mean to or not.

Research Experience

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
After graduating and traveling all summer, it was time for me to get a job. I was lucky enough to be offered one as a Columbia River Fishery sampler for the 2019 season. I had the opportunity to complete stream and hatchery surveys on top of my main role of sampling the commercial landings of white sturgeon, Coho salmon, and Chinook salmon at the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon.

Semester By The Sea
As marketed, the UT marine science program did have a separate satellite campus in Port Aransas, Texas. I was able to live seconds away from dolphins and turtles swimming in the ship channel and de-stressing on the beach. My core undergraduate research project involved creating species specific primers for a harmful algal species, Karenia brevis, to use for future qPCR-driven grazing experiments.

Texas Parks and Wildlife
While in Port Aransas, I was able to volunteer with Texas Parks and Wildlife in the month of February as a fisheries technician and help with seine and bay trawl samples.

Texas Water Development Board
I had my first experience working in this field and for a state governmental agency when I became a Texas Water Development Board intern. I had the privilege of using their 30-year water database to compare the effects of riverine flood events and hurricane-induced flood events, with a particular focus on Hurricane Harvey, which had devastated the Texas coast only the year before. I was interested in freshwater inflows and the implications for salinity recovery in Texas bays and estuaries. This is also when I had to teach myself python for the analysis. It is also exciting that they are still using my data for current projects!

Conferences

Hurricane Harvey Symposium
I was the only undergraduate to present my research at the Hurricane Harvey Symposium hosted by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

Semester By the Sea Symposium
I presented my results of my semester-long research project to my peers and professors at the Semester by the Sea student symposium.