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Picture of Susana Gonzalez

Susana Marie Gonzalez Rivera

School: Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Department: Infectious Disease and Global Health

Research Interests: Conservation and Ecology, Animal Science, Water Security, Outreach and Public Communications

TIE Affiliation

Environmental Research Fellowship


Anthropogenically derived nutrient loads in marine water columns can significantly increase the severity of harmful algal blooms (HABs). In Alaska, where HABs are increasingly impacting the community, these nutrient loads are rarely investigated in relation to algae density and human activity. To help measure nutrient influence on HABs, and the potential contribution of humans in this area, samples from various outflow systems along the coast of Juneau, Alaska will be taken. The relationship between dissolved nutrients and algae density will be quantified at locations such as river outflows and areas receiving input from wastewater treatment facilities and urban drains. By increasing knowledge of nutrient dynamics in Alaska and how they relate to human activity and other influential factors, more accurate predictions for HABs can be made, and mitigation strategies be formulated to help control their impact on human, animal, and environmental health.


Susana is Masters candidate at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in the department of Infectious Disease and Global Health. She expects to complete her studies in August 20021. She received a B.S. in Pre-Veterinary Animal Science with minors in Biology and Spanish from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. Before Tufts, Susana interned and supervised at The Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay, California where she helped rescue and rehabilitate a variety of marine mammal species. This was where Susana first became interested in nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms as she observed first hand their effects on animals, humans, and the environment. She also studied male northern elephant seal populations with the Friends of the Elephant Seal non-profit organization along the central coast of California. Prior to accepting the offer for her Master's candidacy at Tufts, Susana worked as a veterinary nurse at a small animal hospital, in San Luis Obispo caring for people and their pets while enjoying all that the Central Coast of California has to offer.

Current Studies and Future Goals

When asked what she found most meaningful about her field of study, Susana responded with the following: “Conservation medicine is a unique field because it strives for inclusivity. The purpose of this practice is to break down any walls that may exist between fields or positions and use this wide variety of existing backgrounds and perceptions to achieve a common goal. Solving today's problems effectively, requires understanding the interconnectedness of animals, humans, and the environment and to do this, we have to acknowledge the value in each of our peer's expertise and apply this to collectively create innovative solutions."

When asked what interested her in becoming a TIE Fellow, Susana responded with the following: “Aside from the emphasis on environmental health, what I found most intriguing about the TIE program was it's intention to reach outside communities. Whether they are a few miles down the road or a few thousand miles by plane, it is vital to create unity within and among communities particularly because of the drive that this can create in shaping a sustainable future."

After Tufts, Susana intends to delve deeper into her interdisciplinary field while focusing on ocean conservation. She also plans to search and find innovative ways to increase public engagement in conservation effort to influence policy changes.

Fun Facts!

When not doing school work, Susana enjoys skateboarding, drawing, hiking, and painting.

Favorite food/drink: Mole

Favorite song/artist: Fantasy by Earth, Wind & Fire

Favorite place you've visited: Nayarit, Mexico