New Faculty: Cesar B. Rocha

Cesar B. Rocha head shot

Photo courtesy of Cesar Rocha.

Cesar B. Rocha

Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences

Cesar B. Rocha is a marine scientist who studies the physics of the ocean using tools of applied mathematics, computer science, and ocean engineering. He is also interested in the intersection of physical oceanography and other disciplines, such as ocean biogeochemistry and climate. In 2011, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in oceanography and, in 2013, a master’s degree in physical oceanography, both from the University of São Paulo. In 2018, he earned a doctorate in physical oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and will join UConn in the spring of 2020.

Q&A with Cesar B. Rocha

What are your research interests?

As an ocean dynamicist, I study the causes and consequences of ocean circulation. What interests me most are mesoscale and submesoscale eddies–strong swirly currents also known as the “ocean weather.” I use observations, computer simulations, and mathematical analysis to unravel what drives these eddies and how they affect climate.

How did you become interested in this type of work?

As part of my undergraduate research experience, I partook in four oceanographic cruises to measure a large-scale recirculation cell off Southeast Brazil. Those cruises were miserably unsuccessful due to ubiquitous strong mesoscale eddies, which dominated the signal and obscured the weak recirculation currents. It struck me how little was–and still is–known about these eddies, despite their importance to ocean circulation and climate. And it soon became clear to me that an understanding of non-linear phenomena such as ocean eddies lies in the intersection of theory, observations, and computer simulations, so it’s a type of work in which I could deploy my full skillset.

What courses will you be teaching this year?

I’ll team-teach two classes: Marine Sciences I and II. These are core courses for marine sciences majors that introduce them to the study of the ocean, with a focus on physical, biological, chemical, and geological coastal processes.

I also plan to develop an upper-level undergraduate/graduate class to teach students best practices in scientific computing and give them a hands-on experience in analysis, interpretation, and presentation of marine sciences data.

What drew you to UConn?

Above all, I took this job because of the people at UConn––the congenial community across the campuses and the close-knit, collaborative faculty, staff, and students at the Department of Marine Sciences.

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