Meet the Scientist: April Abbott

September 20, 2019

Name: Dr. April N Abbott
Institution: Macquarie University
Place Of Residence: Australia

What kind of science do you do?
I'm a geochemical oceanographer- I use pore water (the water between the sediment grains) to understand modern element cycling and their implications on paleoclimate studies. Currently, I'm focused on understanding whether the sediments are a source of rare earth elements to the overlying water column.

What is the most interesting thing about your field of research?
I think the most interesting thing is the aspect of discovery. Take going to sea: you're often 2, 3, even 4 km above the seabed sending a tube ~10 cm in diameter to bring back sediment and there is the same excitement on deck each time to see what we caught. The sense of discovery is true back in the lab as well, it just usually takes a bit longer!

Why do you think your field of work is pertinent to the world of geochemistry?
I spend most of my time thinking about the chemistry of the sediments (or the water within them!) and this interaction is so important to our understanding of chemical cycling in the global ocean. We often think of the ocean as this deep dark place, but if we draw it like a box model its quite a shallow box that covers a lot of area- relatively speaking the surface area interacting with the sediments is impressive.

What is one obstacle in your field of work that you wish you could overcome?
One obstacle always seems to be the funding, often with smaller grants it comes down to attend a conference, pay a summer intern, or publish open access- they all cost about the same and many times you just can't afford more than one!

What is one crazy memory you have from working in your field of study?
We had just pulled up a multicore from ~200 m water depth, and perfectly centered in one of the core tubes was this sea urchin. Couldn't have caught him if we tried!

If you could discover one thing in the entire world, what would that be?
A way to protect our oceans and their inhabitants from warming/acidification/pollution.

If you could meet anyone, who would that be and why?
Marie Tharp- she accomplished so much and made fundamental advances in our understanding of the sea floor without being allowed to set foot on a research vessel. I would want to find out about what it was like to discover the mid ocean ridges and share how far we've come in having women involved in field research.