Olivia BlondheimYouth Council Member
Olivia Blondheim is a senior Baldwin Honors Scholar and Civic Scholar at Drew University, where she is double-majoring in Biology and Spanish. Born and raised in Maryland, her passion for environmental research and education began when she served as a student mentor at the Harford Glen Center for Environmental Explorations and Technology. Helping students get excited about science and learn how to use different techniques to conduct their research taught her the importance of empowering the next generation of scientists.
Olivia has volunteered at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland where she was an exhibit guide, student volunteer mentor, and jellies aquarist. As an exhibit guide she promoted ocean conservation to visitors from around the world, allowing her to better understand her responsibility as a scientist in creating a more environmentally literate society. Working behind-the-scenes in the jellies lab started her on her pursuit of understanding how jellies interact with and impact their marine ecosystems. Funded by the National Science Foundation as part of Oregon State University’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program, Olivia has used fine-scale imaging systems to investigate how hydromedusae migrate vertically over a 24-hour cycle. She has also studied the factors that affect how upside-down jellies pulsate their bells in South Water Caye, Belize and through CIEE’s Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation Program in Kralendijk, Bonaire. As a NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholar, Olivia is currently in Newport, Oregon studying the swimming behavior and vertical distributions of pyrosomes.
Olivia’s goal is to use her research to help engage local communities to better protect their water resources. Locally, she has worked with the New Jersey Audubon Society and the Whippany River Watershed Action Committee to organize stream clean-ups and to monitor the health of wood turtle populations. Olivia is also a certified AAUS Scientific Diver and has logged over 40 lifetime dives. In her free time, Olivia enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. She will be pursuing a PhD in the marine sciences and hopes her research will bring a greater awareness to the important roles that jellies play within our ocean.