Ask a Scientist Series Q4 2021


Feature Photo Credit: Juan Carlos Oliva

In our quarterly series, we ask different scientists the same 5 questions. Join us as we see the world from a scientist’s eyes!


Ximena Boza

(c) Jorge Aleman

Our 5 questions for Ximena:

  1. What do you do right now for work?

I am a Research Technician III for Marine Global Earth Observatory (MarineGEO) in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Bocas del Toro Station in Panama.

  1. What motivated you to become a scientist?

I never knew I wanted to become a scientist. I just LOVED the ocean and everything about it, so I decided to study Marine Biology. By that time, I thought that was the only way to pursue something I love. Then I realized that my passion was understanding the ocean as a whole, not just the organisms, which is why I then studied Oceanography, and became a scientist along the way.

(c) Jorge Aleman
  1. What is one thing about the ocean or marine life you want everyone to know?

Sea levels are rising globally. However, not in all parts of the world sea levels rise at the same rate. The reason is a phenomenon called “post-glacial rebound”. This means that during the last ice age (~ 20,000 years ago) lands that were covered with ice sheets were weighed down. At the same time, land that was nearby but not covered with ice, rose up. As the ice sheets started to melt, the weighed down areas started to rebound, and the iceless land started to sink. This “seesaw” effect continues to this day.

  1. What is your favorite marine animal and why?

My favorite marine animals are whales. I do not have a favorite species but I do consider the humpback whales special to me because it was the first species I saw above and underwater. They are just spectacular to watch and learn about.

  1. What’s been discovered on reefs that is mimicked by humans?

It was discovered that the little bumps on the flippers of a humpback whale increases their hydrodynamic efficiency. This discovery is bringing ideas for airplanes and wind turbines. The most tangible accomplishment is a highly efficient ceiling fan.

(c) Juan Carlos Oliva

Ximena Boza is a Panamanian marine biologist with a masters degree in oceanography. She was born and raised in Panama City but decided to move to a small, beautiful Caribbean island in Bocas del Toro a few years ago. She currently works at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute as a Research Technician. She is excited to apply her ocean water-quality skills to help restore corals with the Mother of Corals team. You can follow her adventures on Instagram.

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