Ana Paula Krelling, of São Paulo, successfully defended her dissertation to become the first dual-degree PhD graduate of UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science (SMAST) and the University of São Paulo Institute of Oceanography (IOUSP).
Ana Paula earned her bachelor's degree in oceanography from the Federal University of Pará, Brazil, and her master's degree in ocean engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
For her PhD in oceanography, Ana Paula had a concentration in physical oceanography. Her research focused on the dynamics of ocean currents, melding observations with numerical modeling. Ana's dissertation characterized the Portiguar Eddy, a major oceanic feature associated with the North Brazil Undercurrent (NBUC).
Ana Paula’s co-advisors were Prof. Avijit Gangopadhyay of SMAST and Prof. IIson da Silveira of the IOUSP.
Growing interest in physical oceanography
I’ve been interested in oceanography for as long as I can remember. Since I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to study the ocean, which is unusual if you consider that I was born in the Amazon area with not much salt water around me. I didn’t have much contact with the ocean.
I blame the National Geographic shark documentaries I watched as a kid for my career choice. I wanted to study the organisms in the ocean until my senior year of high school, which I spent in the United States. The educational system is different in Brazil; you aren’t able to choose courses during high school.
Able to choose courses, I didn’t pick any biology courses, but I chose as many physics courses as possible. I realized I wanted to study the physics of oceans. It has been physical oceanography since then, and I’m glad for that.
Benefits of pursuing a dual degree at SMAST & IOUSP
Being part of the dual degree program brings many advantages. The exposure I gained being in another country for a while was very rewarding and definitely a huge learning experience. Even though I was able to go to conferences in different countries while in Brazil, being part of the routine of SMAST for a year made a difference.
Different research approaches taken in different institutions help us pick the aspects that we find beneficial for working in science and increase our knowledge and range of possibilities within oceanography. The interaction between related fields is also very beneficial.
I was lucky to be part of this program. I could make the best of the experience because all of the SMAST professors and students were helpful. At IOUSP, we were working on the internalization of the program, and I’m positive my coming here was a big step in that direction. I guarantee it is a rewarding experience for students from both countries.
Memorable moment: PhD qualifying exam
The most memorable moment was my qualifying exam in Brazil, with a few SMAST professors present. It was the first qualifying exam of the SMAST-IOUSP dual program, therefore the first qualifying exam done in English. Many people showed up to see it, and I was really nervous. I’d been studying hard and was ready, so it went well. It was by far the hardest thing I had to do during my career, but the fact that it went very well and contributed to the success of the program was rewarding.
Future plans: professor at Federal University of Ceará
On the day I defended my PhD, I got approved for a professor position at Federal University of Ceará in northeastern Brazil. I’m very happy and looking forward to contributing to research in oceanography in Brazil.