Program: M.A.M.A., 2019
Current Position: PhD student in Biological and Environmental Sciences/Chemical Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island
Biography: Asta is a Ph.D. student in Biological and Environmental Sciences/Chemical Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. He holds a Master of Arts in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island (2017-2019) and Bachelor of Sciences in applied marine sciences from the College of Marine Science and Technology in Massawa-Eritrea. Asta’s research interest is the impact of persistent pollutants on aquatic organisms and science communication on pollution risk, policies, and mitigation approaches as to benefit local communities. His research strives to include inclusive approaches to facilitate the utilization of local knowledge in developing scientific solutions. During his master’s tenure with Dr. Mendenhall he researched transboundary protected areas and integration of local knowledge in East Africa. Asta’s past research included uptake of heavy metals in mangrove mad flats, effects of ocean acidification on Mullet fish and crabs, and ecological health and fisheries assessment projects in Eritrea. His current work focuses on the fate, transport, and bioaccumulation of contaminants of emerging concerns, particularly organophosphate esters (OPEs) in the Narragansett Bay. He also looks into how much the lab science is being transferred to local communities by exploring the gaps in community engagement for different community structures. He is also actively engaged in activities that work towards making STEM fields more inclusive of underrepresented groups, particularly ocean science.