Maria is an Environmental Scientist with a doctorate (Ph.D.) in marine spatial ecology, extensive experience in marine predator research and a passion for Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic ecosystems. Her research aims to enhance our understanding of environmental changes that impact primary producer communities, as these influence the ecology and fitness of higher trophic levels, and to inform future spatial population trends in light of current predictions of climate change. For her thesis, Maria studied minke whale occurrence in relation to sea ice habitat structure throughout the Antarctic sea-ice zone. She worked as a research fellow for the Blue whale study and the Centre for Whale Research (Australia) conducting ecological modelling, passive acoustic monitoring and habitat assessment for top predators (i.e. mainly marine mammals), and investigating biological responses to changes in habitat caused by natural and anthropogenic environmental variability. She is an experienced marine wildlife observer who has participated in both scientific and seismic surveys throughout the Southern Ocean (Antarctica), South Atlantic (South Orkney Islands), and the south and west coast of Australia for a variety of non-profit and corporative groups including the International Whaling Commission, Fundación Malpelo, and the offshore industry. During her appointment at Deakin University as an academic lecturer and research assistant, she acquired teaching experience in environmental science, including marine ecology, environmental management, and animal anatomy and physiology. Maria is the project officer of the project.