Earthwatch Scientist, Chelsea Clyde-Brockway, Ph.D.

Chelsea Clyde-Brockway, Ph.D.

Dr. Chelsea Clyde-Brockway (pronouns: she/her/hers) is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Purdue University and the Executive Director of The Leatherback Trust. Her research focuses on understanding how wildlife physiology and behavior are associated with environmental variability. This work has directly resulted in the implementation of conservation measures, including the establishment of Costa Rica’s Papagayo Marine Responsible Fishing Area. Focusing on endangered sea turtles, Dr. Clyde-Brockway’s research employs various techniques, including stable isotope analysis, endocrinology, metabolomics, and spatial analysis—all of which have a wide application in understanding how organisms and ecosystems will respond to a changing climate.

What sparked an interest in her area of research?

I have always loved the ocean, but my interest in marine animals began when I realized the unique physiological requirements that accompany life in a saltwater environment. For sea turtles, that includes things like breathing air but living in the water, being ectothermic but living in a medium that conducts temperature very well, and laying eggs on land but living in the water. Sea turtles are ancient reptiles that are opportunistic and adaptable; they shift their behavior and resource use based on what is available. They are resourceful and creative and continue to demonstrate this in the presence of humans. Through my work, I hope to help people care about turtles and protect them, and in turn, end up protecting the ocean as a whole.

What is one of your favorite moments in the field?

There are few things as magical as watching a leatherback nest on a dark beach during a new moon, especially when the waves are lighting up with bioluminescence. We do not get to experience dark nights without light pollution, so I love being able to experience them as part of my job. It is amazing to be able to witness these turtles, as clumsy and awkward as they seem on the beach, darting through the water, agile and elegant.

  • Ph.D. in Wildlife Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
  • M.S. Biology, Purdue Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Indiana, USA.
  • B.S. in Marine Biology, Sonoma State University, Cotati, California, USA.
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Chelsea Brockway on the beach with two other people conducting research on a sea turtle.
Dr. Brockway and a participant on a boat with a sea turtle.

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