written by Emma Morrow
Diana Del Angel is a graduate research assistant and NOAA CCME Fellow currently working to obtain her Ph.D. in Coastal Marine System Science with the Socio-Economics Group at Harte Research Institute Gulf of Mexico Studies. She has a Master of Science from TAMUCC and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Her research focuses on understanding the economic impacts of sea level rise and benefits of green infrastructure within the coastal zone. During her senior year of undergrad, she developed an interest in understanding coastal changes. “I did some mapping and restoration work around beaches, dunes, and coastal wetlands and fell in love with it.” She enjoys her field of study and the ability it gives her to explore the impact different environmental factors have on coastal areas.
Diana’s passion for coastal science began in her hometown of Brownsville, Texas. As a child, she always wanted to be a scientist. “I remember as a kid… I tried to make my own fossils by putting plants between heavy rocks. I liked to collect bugs and put them in jars. Also, one year for Christmas I requested a telescope.”
Diana describes herself as a project-oriented person and sees all her accomplishments as steps along her career path. However, she says she is most proud of her ability to follow her own intuition. “I’ve just found that there really is no one who can tell you how to live your best life other than yourself.” She encourages others to find what makes them happy and to be persistent in achieving their goals, and it will bring more contentment in life.
In the environmental field, Diana says it is important to be adaptive and enthusiastic in one’s work. “People in this field sometimes are witnessing a lot of ecosystem change, such as loss to biodiversity and habitat… and I think sometimes people get discouraged. So my advice would be, follow your passion.” Knowing that the work you do aligns with your values and surrounding yourself with people who are working toward the same goal can be encouraging. Also, building collaborations is important in the environmental field, such as with policy-makers or communication specialists, to translate science to beneficial outcomes. Sharing work in a way that others can gain an understanding of what is going on in their own communities can help them recognize the environmental policies in place or that are needed.
In her free time, Diana enjoys cooking, painting, and gardening–she says she has a passion for creating. She values her time with her friends and family above everything. Diana and her partner raise three furry family members, a dog and two cats. She takes pride in her loved one’s accomplishments and finds joy in watching them “flourish” in their own lives. She loves to travel with her friends and family to get away from routine and be able to bond on a deeper level. She has a goal to visit fifty National Parks by the age of fifty and fill her National Park Passport with stamps alongside her loved ones. In her travels, she tries to enjoy all the nature the world has to offer, and every new travel destination becomes her new favorite spot.
In the future, Diana plans to continue to pursue coastal change research with the goal of conserving and improving the health of coastal ecosystems. She describes herself as a well-rounded coastal scientist and finds she can be successful in a number of positions. “As long as the bottom line is increasing our knowledge and application of coastal science, I can be on board.”