Deo Florence ONDA, PhD in Oceanography (Philippines)

Determined to find sustainable solutions to the climate change issues affecting the world’s oceans through ecology, Deo Florence Onda is conducting his research as a PhD student at Université Laval in Canada.

Research focus: marine microbial ecology, with emphasis on elucidating eukaryotic microbial diversity, biogeography and their potential roles in different ecological processes

Microorganisms drive most of the essential processes in all ecosystems. In the Arctic, they provide most of the carbon and energy supply in the food web as a whole, directly influencing higher organisms. Now that the Arctic Ocean is approaching a tipping point due to climate change, understanding how its ecosystem functions is an important part of providing a solid framework for the ocean’s sustainable development, which involves the wise use of resources and ecosystem services. These will help develop a dynamic management system towards the sustainable use of resources within the Arctic Region.

Onda’s work is centred on the further understanding of the diversity, ecology, distribution and responses of microbial communities to these changing conditions. With the predicted opening of the Arctic to trade and transportation due to ice loss in the coming years, his research will help assess the impacts that these future activities could have in the region. His ultimate aim is to understand the consequences of the changing environment and increased anthropogenic disturbances to marine ecosystems from the perspectives of microbial ecology.

Onda is currently doing a PhD in oceanography at Université Laval, Canada, and working with a dynamic team of scientists as a member and fellow at Takuvik Joint International Laboratory and Québec-Océan. He has also participated in a number of scientific expeditions. Most recently, he was involved with the Joint Ocean Ice Studies and Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project. He received multiple grants from different institutions and programs including CERC, FRNT-Québec, G&B Moore Foundation, European Molecular Biology Lab, EukRef and Université Laval for his research, along with internships and further trainings abroad. In the long-term, his goal is to continue his career as an independent scientist and contribute to sustainable development in the Philippines, his country of origin.

The jury highlighted Onda’s strong research in the Arctic Ocean. His work to find sustainable alternatives for development in the area will help combat the major challenges of climate change.