written by Emma Morrow
Ulsia Urrea Marino is a Doctoral student in the Coastal and Marine Systems Science program and a Dr. Wes Tunnell Fellow working toward her PhD in Sustainable Management of Coastal Zones. In her graduate courses, she focuses her studies on beach management, coastal cities, fishermen, and fisheries. Ulsia lives in her hometown of Mexico City, Mexico, where she is currently conducting online course work and plans to join the Harte Research Institute’s Socio-Economics Group in Spring of 2021 to continue her studies on campus.
Ever since she was a child, Ulsia was drawn to the sea. She specifically remembers a trip she took with her family to Dona Juana, Veracruz when she was eight. As she looked out over the water, her mother told them they must greet the moon and sea. “It was an amazing night; I felt in love [with] the sea at that moment.”
She finds it fascinating to learn how fishermen use the moon, the stars, and the wind to guide their sails, or how fishing activities are divided by space and gender. In her studies, she has found that a majority of sea fishermen are men, while those that are drawn to fish in the wetlands are mostly women. “My favorite thing to dedicate my life to is studying and trying to understand the beaches, the sea, and the people who live in these spaces.”
When asked if she has advice for those pursuing a similar career path, she emphasized the importance of being persistent and patient. She suggests picking the studies you love the most, because you must be fully committed to creating a thesis or research topic that proves its significance in your education. She says the goal is to wake up every day thinking, “This is important for me and the world; I’m in love with my topic.” She expresses the difficulty of Doctoral work, and the pressures that come with it. If you do not have a passion for what you are studying, it will be much harder to accomplish.
Ulsia enjoys traveling, within her studies or with her family. Her favorite place to visit is not much of a surprise considering her major. “I love so much to travel, especially to beaches.” But it is not just about the destination for her. “The most interesting thing that I do during my travels is talk with people; even when you don’t expect anything, you learn a lot.” She pushes herself to be immersed in the local culture, whether shopping at the local market, visiting locally owned restaurants, or just getting to know the local residents. One of the most amazing trips she experienced was in Baja, watching grey whales with her whole family.
One of Ulsia’s favorite past times is visiting with her family in Yucatan. She’s very close to her immediate family, which includes mother, father, two younger sisters, a younger brother and his boyfriend. Ulsia really treasures this time she spends with her loved ones, and she says it gives her a chance to relax and enjoy the moment. Ulsia also has a lot of company at her home in Mexico City; she currently fosters six cats, one dog, and a pair of possums. The bonds she shares with her pets is much like the relationship she shares with her family. Her youngest cat, Whitney, is like a daughter to Ulsia.
Ulsia also enjoys teaching. She works with any age group from children to adults, and even fellow researchers. She believes this is a great way to build communication skills, which do not always come easy to scientists and researchers. Ulsia’s goal for her career is to become a researcher and knowledge broker in Mexico. She wishes to study and educate others about public policies of local environments. “I’m passionate about science and outreach and would like to help policy makers and people in general have a better relationship with beaches and sea.”