Chandler native now explores the world’s oceans
By Ken Sain, Editor-in-chief
Mattie Rodrigue, originally from Chandler, says she saw more than a few raised eyebrows when she told them that a desert kid is now a marine biologist.
” What do they say ?!’ ”Said Rodrigue. “Most often I get questions from people… ‘Ah, I wanted to do that as a kid, then I decided to go somewhere else. My goal, therefore, is to make sure that any child who wants to become a marine biologist knows that it is a possibility. “
Now Rodrigue spends most of the year on the OceanX ship as the head of its science program. OceanX is a global non-profit ocean exploration organization.
Rodrigue returned to Chandler earlier this month to visit his family. While there, she made an appearance at the OceanX Adventure exhibit currently on display at the Crayola Experience at the Chandler Fashion Center.
She thanked her teachers as she grew up in Chandler for helping her reach the bottom of the ocean where she discovered new species. Rodrigue went to Dobson High School and graduated from Arizona State University. When not on the ship, which she does about 8-10 months a year, she calls New York home.
“Mattie had a hiatus for a few weeks, and because she’s local here in Chandler, OceanX contacted us,” said Casey Santoro, general manager of Crayola Experience. “We thought, what a great partnership, we already had the OceanX display going on here so it fits everyone perfectly.”
Rodrigue said she enjoyed exploring the desert when she was growing up.
“I want to know what’s out there, I want to find new things, I want to discover and explore,” Rodrigue said. “But ultimately, I am passionate about the future of the oceans.”
Rodrigue said it was while on a trip to California when she was in fourth grade that her mother suggested she speak to a marine biologist. This is how a child of the desert who grew up hundreds of kilometers from any ocean became interested in marine biology.
Now she dives into their en route vehicles to depths of 3,000 feet below the surface. She also sent robots up to 18,000 feet to explore.
This allowed him to regularly meet new species. How many times?
“Quite often,” she said. “I don’t have the exact number for you, but we have an incredible resource in the ship. We have a lot of eyes underwater, a lot of eyes on the surface, and a lot of eyes in the air. … Using the capacity we have on board helps us see in those places at the right time when we can discover something big.
Rodrigue said she enjoyed the opportunity to tell the kids about the OceanX mission.
“I haven’t done it in person in a while, obviously,” said Rodrigue. “But mostly coming to my hometown, and especially talking to kids who are like me when I was little, and interested and curious but maybe not sure what the next step is. Or how to get involved in what interests and excites them. Everything I can do is just amazing.
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