Citizen Science: Microscopic Creatures Hold the Key to the Future

Thank you!

December 21, 2020
Backers Only: Only backers of this project can see this update. If you are a backer please to see this update.

New Logo

December 16, 2020

FjordPhyto has a new Logo!!!  


The zodiac full of people represent the community of travelers and scientists working together in the fjords of polar regions.


Our project combines the tools of genetics and microscopy which are represented by the DNA molecule and the classic Antarctic diatom, a Corethron.


The colors blue, white, gold, and green represent the icy cloud covered marine environment full of phytoplankton plant-like life - Antarctic Gold.


Conceptual designs from the FjordPhyto team: Chilean Masters student educator and artist Celeste Kroeger-Campodonico, Masters student and filmmaker Gabriela Lamanna from El Salvador, PhD research student Martina Mascioni from Argentina, PhD research student Allison Cusick from the USA, recently minted Dr. Jack Pan from the Vernet Lab (USA) and Dr Maria Vernet herself (USA). Thank you to Chilean graphic designer Ingrid Céspedes Alfaro. 


FjordPhyto showcased at Conferences during the 2020 year

December 16, 2020

During this unexpected 2020 year, the FjordPhyto team has continued to actively share our project around the world through our new means of Online Conferences. We wanted to give you a quick update on all the national and international conferences we have presented the FjordPhyto project:

  • February 2020 - Ocean Sciences Meeting, One of the largest Oceanographic conferences met in -person, with over 6300 ocean scientists (right before the pandemic hit). 
  • Summer 2020 - NASA 2020 workshop: NASA Citizen Science Community discusses Citizen Science, FjordPhyto is an attendee. 
  • August 2020 - SCAR 2020 Online: the International Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, FjordPhyto is presented through oral and poster presentations. 
  • August 2020 - ICYMARE 2020 Online: International Conference for Young Marine Researchers  
  • November 2020 - Polar Film Festival, Drifters of the Sea hosted by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists 
  • November 2020 - IDEAL Chilean Antarctic Day by Center of Investigation on Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems of High Latitudes 

The Washington Post Citizen science allows amateurs to contribute to groundbreaking investigations, even without traveling

December 13, 2020

Journalist Tanya Goodman  writes about her experience with FjordPhyto on Polar Latitudes trip to Antarctica


Short Film - Drifters of the Sea

December 13, 2020

Gabriela Lamanna has created a film about FjordPhyto which was hosted during September 2020 Polar Week Film Festival for the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS):

June 8th WATCH ONLINE new updates on FjordPhyto

June 03, 2020

The team has been working hard to create inspiring outreach materials for FjordPhyto that highlight the importance and beauty of science, tourism, and phytoplankton. 


MARK YOUR CALENDARS that on June 8th, Monday there will be TWO short presentations (12 minutes each) by Masters students in the same masters program FjordPhyto was created through. 


They'll present their work at the following times (Pacific Standard Time):

  • 9:30 am Gabriela Lamanna (from El Salvador) has created a documentary film about phytoplankton citizen science in Antarctica with interviews from Dr. Maria Vernet, myself, and a polar guide Caitlyn Webster using footage I've gathered over the past 3 years. Drifters of the Sea: Antarctic Citizen Science
  • 10:00am Celeste Kroeger-Campodonico (from Chile) is creating a non-scientific phytoplankton Identification guide about Antarctic Phytoplankton beautifully illustrated by Ingrid and Celeste, including microscope images taken by graduate student Martina Mascioni.  Science goes on Vacation: A Book for Travelers Discovering the Antarctic Microscopic Forest

Hope you are able to tune in (time in PST). 


Livestream Link: 

Full Schedule:  


Feel free to share with others who might be interested, widely! 


If you can't make the live presentations, we will share the final products when they're ready! 


Thank you for being a part of and supportive of the Phyto Team! 


June 03, 2020

Dr. Maria Vernet has been elected as AAAS Accomplished Scientist Fellow for 2018 Biological Sciences.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the largest general science organization in the United States, and publisher of the journal Science. AAAS has bestowed upon 416 of its members (since 1874) the lifetime honor of being an elected Fellow in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in advancing science.


Maria Vernet, an emeritus researcher in the Integrative Oceanography Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, was recognized “for distinguished contributions to understanding the dynamics of polar phytoplankton communities, especially in the context of polar ice-shelf breakup and ice melt.”



Sharing FjordPhyto at Conferences World Wide

June 03, 2020

The past couple of years have been a great whirlwind of activity! So far we have been working hard to share this project worldwide by attending the following conferences:

  • Citizen Science Association conferences, March CitSci 2017 & 2019 in the USA
  • Gordon Research Conference  (GRC) – Polar Marine Science Conference March 2017 in the USA
  • Polar Field Staff Conference (AECO/IAATO), Two Poles: One Mission October 2017 in Iceland, and September 2019 in the USA.
  • Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) Online Conference – Butterfly Effect – May 2018 and received Winner of Best Innovative Communication prize for a short documentary (here).
  • Polar 2018 Open Science Conference June 2018 in Davos, Switzerland
  • Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s (SCAR) Standing Committee on Antarctic Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS) SCAR- SC- HASS May 2019 in Ushuaia, Argentina
  • Ocean Sciences Meeting, San Diego California 2019 in the USA

For more information visit the blog post:


June 03, 2020

**update** This fellowship opportunity has been postponed for summer 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. We look forward to Martina arriving in the USA to work in the Vernet Lab ASAP! 


Congratulations to Martina Mascioni who is one of the recipients of the first IAATO Antarctic Fellowship!

Martina is currently a graduate student (PhD) from the University of La Plata, Argentina, and with this fellowship she will be able to will come to Scripps Institution of Oceanography to visit Dr. Maria Vernet and Allison Cusick in the Vernet lab to continue advancing the work through FjordPhyto citizen science project.


June 03, 2020





Our FIRST scientific peer-reviewed publication came out August 2019 in Polar Biology showing the results from the first year of sampling. Check it out here Mascioni et al., 2019 publication was lead by first-author and graduate student Martina Mascioni. 



Our second scientific peer-reviewed publication came out shortly after online January 2020, and in print March 2020 in Oceanography detailing the development process of the citizen science framework as an effective way to further science and engage the public in active polar research. Check it out here Cusick et al., 2020. This publication was lead by first-author and graduate student Allison Cusick.


A scientists very FIRST first-author publications is a BIG DEAL for new scientists!! Congrats to Martina and Allison. 


Also, a HUGE thank you to all involved in this work.

This project could not happen without a team of enthusiastic partners, and we appreciate every person who has been supportive along the way!

Testimonial: First-Class Citizen Science (Planet Forward)

April 09, 2019

There is no better way to feel like we made an impact on someone, as scientists, than to hear testimonials from passengers who participate in the polar FjordPhyto citizen science projects onboard. Thank you so much to Navya from this Antarctic season who interviewed Robert W. Gilmore and Allison Cusick and wrote her experience up in the UC Berkley University newsletter 


"Citizen science gives people of all ages the chance to participate in research and re-discover the most curious parts of themselves." "There’s still a way for people of all ages to re-discover the joy of exploration, tinkering, and experimentation — what science is actually about"


That IS what its about!! Please take a read and share!

Conference time: Citizen Science Association Conference - CitSci2019

April 09, 2019

This week (March 13-17) we’ve been at the #citsci2019 Citizen Science conference in Raleigh, North Carolina learning, networking, sharing, and growing. Allison Cusick gave a presentation on the FjordPhyto project in Antarctica and presented a poster for the Polar Citizen Science Collective. It’s been fun to run into some familiar faces and meet many more new ones! At the end of the presentations she received some fantastic questions and comments and even met one of the first citizen scientist passengers of FjordPhyto who participated in 2017-2018. We love love love the enthusiasm of this community! 


Conferences are a great way for researchers and educators to come together, learn from each other, and leave inspired.

Conference time again: Presenting FjordPhyto to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) community

April 09, 2019

Graduate student Martina Mascioni from Argentina, presented the FjordPhyto project at the SCAR Standing Committee on the Humanities and Social Sciences [SC-HASS] conference (April 3-5). This conference brings together researchers in the humanities and social sciences with an interest in the Antarctic region. Attending conferences is a great way to network, gather and share ideas, and talk to the broader community outside of the words we publish in primary literature! After the conference is over, its always good to build in some fun activities that let you explore the area! 



Fodor's Travel lists citizen science as #5 reason to go to Antarctica

December 18, 2018

Fodor's Travel lists top 15 things you should know before you travel to Antarctica, and participating in science is listed as #5! We couldn't be happier to engage travelers in the polar research we are doing here in the Vernet Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. If you're heading on down to The Ice, as to participate in FjordPhyto! You'll come away in awe of the microscopic life hiding within the icy waters. If you can't join on a trip, live vicariously through our social media posts and share these links with your friends and family! Thank you to all for your support! 



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