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Angeles Alvariño: 1916—: Marine Biologist, Oceanographer Biography

Dreamed Of Becoming A Doctor, Became Zooplankton Expert, Joined The Swfsc

Angeles Alvariño: 1916—: Marine biologist, oceanographer.

Dr. Angeles Alvariño, also known by her married name of Angeles Alvariño de Leira, is an expert on marine zooplankton. These are nonphotosynthetic, primarily microscopic organisms that drift in the upper layers of salt water and form the base of the marine food chain. Much of Alvariño's research has focused on the zooplankton of fish spawning grounds. Over a career spanning more than 50 years, Alvariño has discovered 22 new marine species. Since her retirement from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in La Jolla, California, as an emeritus scientist, Alvariño has been researching the biological collections made by early marine expeditions.

Angeles Alvariño was born on October 3, 1916, in El Ferrol, Spain. Her parents, Antonio Alvariño Grimaldos and Maria del Carmen Gonzáles Díaz-Saavedra de Alvariño, encouraged her early interest in natural history. From a very young age, she read the volumes on zoology in her father's library. Alvariño studied piano throughout her childhood until she entered the university; but from the age of four, she was determined to become a physician like her father. However, her father vehemently opposed this choice because he did not want her to experience the pain and suffering associated with patients whose conditions were untreatable.

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