If someone was to ask me today, why research, and especially why marine sciences, I think the only reason is the undying love for the coastal and marine environment. Avid swimmer since I was 6 years old, snorkelling the coastal reefs of Kenya in my teens, getting certified as a PADI Open Water Diver in my early 20’s (currently holding the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification and Scientific Diver Certification as well), the ocean has been and will always be a part of my life. As an undersea explorer with extraordinary dive and camera skills, and as well as a talented underwater photographer and marine naturalist, my knowledge and experiences have led me from the warm tropical waters of the Western Indian Ocean, to the cold temperate waters of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. Maybe I am just following the “ocean conveyor belt” and the “Gulf Stream” in the Atlantic, before climate change completely slows it down or even stops it altogether.
After completion of my Master of Science in Marine Environment and Resources (Spain) and Master of Science, Technology and Health (Specialty Oceanography) (France) in 2016 (Dual Joint MSc. Degrees), I was able to, within 3 months of my return to Kenya, participate in the development of two currently on-going NRF projects along the Kenyan coast, one on cage culture, and the other in the establishment of marine fish hatchery, a project in which I played a key and major role, from its inception to its development, something that was long overdue for Kenya. As previously mentioned, I love spending time on the ocean. I am interested in the animal, plant and microscopic life in oceans. This is where I get to put on my researchers “thinking cap” and, my small ideas end up into bigger ideas, based on the need to understand our oceans, and find solutions to the many problems they face. If it is low fish catch problem or during the period of “kusi,” I try to find solutions, e.g. develop a marine fish hatchery to support the idea that marine fishes can be cultured too, thereby providing alternative means to obtain fish when conditions are unfavourable while also giving the ocean environment time to recuperate. This was just the start to many more ideas to come.
Due to this passion and love for the ocean sciences, and the quest to find solutions for most of the problems faced in coastal and marine environments, I was awarded with a competitive PhD grant that enabled me to continue my study in ocean sciences that will finally lead to a PhD in Marine Environment and Resources. So what exactly is my PhD all about? Well, for now the only thing I will mention is that; (1) it is in Spain and (2) my study area is the Iberian Peninsula in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. Okay, maybe I will give a little hint, and that’s it. It focuses on molecular, cellular, physiological and biochemical mechanisms affecting marine fish productivity in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the possibility of developing and/or discovering new and good marine fish species candidates for aquaculture in and around the Bay of Biscay. I will leave it at that for now. The rest can be heard when I defend my theses in a few years. So, for now, I spend a lot of time in the lab, bouncing between two labs; one is a marine station at a university-run research centre for experimental marine biology and biotechnology and the other, a zoology and animal cell biology lab located in the university’s main campus. In between all of these, I also get to practise and improve my Spanish language skills and also present parts of my PhD work in different International Congresses, thereby expanding my networks and interactions with other PhD candidates, research scientists and experts who share the same passions for and experiences in ocean sciences. The world definitely needs more scientists in our oceans and seas today.
- PhD Candidate in Marine Environment and Resources (2018 – present)
- Erasmus Mundus MSc. Marine Environment and Resources (2014 – 2016)
- Scientific Diver certification (2015)
- Certificate in Advanced Scientific Tools for Coastal Biodiversity Assessments (2013)
- Certificate in Marine Fish Hatchery Techniques (2013)
- Certificate in Aquaculture (2013)
- Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (2012)
- Certificate in CSI for Coral Reefs: Investigative and Forensics Field Training (2009)
- PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (2005)
- PADI Open Water Diver (2002)
- Valencia, A., Diaz de Cerio, O., Nzioka Mutua, A., Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. and Cancio, I. (2019). Xenoestrogenicity in estuaries of the North Iberian Peninsula; intersex thicklip grey mullets (Chelon labrosus) lost in transcription. XII Congress of AIEC, Faro, Portugal, 26th – 28th September 2019.
- Diaz de Cerio, O., Achaerandio, A., Nzioka Mutua, A., Azad, H. M., Valencia, A., Korta, M., Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. and Cancio, I. (2019). Molecular markers of apoptosis and autophagocytosis to study ovarian atresia in European hake (Merluccius merluccius). 20th International Pollutant Response in Marine Organisms (PRIMO 20) conference, Charleston, SC, USA, 18th – 22nd May, 2019.
- Mwachireya, S. A., Nzioka, A. M. and Mutiso, D. N. (2017). Coral recruit-algal interactions in coral reef lagoons are mediated by riverine influences. International Journal of Ecology, vol. 2017, Article ID 1351854, 10 pages: doi: 10.1155/2017/1351854
- Nzioka, A., Waithaka, E., Mutie. A., Loki, P. and Boera, P. (2017). Catch assessment survey for Lake Naivasha to guide management of the fishery. Technical Report KMF/RS/2017/B1.3(ii)a, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Mombasa.
- Boera, P., Waithaka, E., Mutie, A., Nzioka, A. and Loki, P (2017). Report on demarcation and protection of an identified fish-breeding site at Korongo in Lake Naivasha in collaboration with communities, and monitor the effect of protection on the site to inform management decisions. Technical Report KMF/RS/2017/B1.8(ii)c, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Mombasa.
- Mutie, A., Boera, P., Waithaka E., Nzioka, A., Loki, P. and Keyombe, J.L.A. (2017). Monitoring the extent of macrophytes and other invasive weeds on Lake Naivasha and establish the impact on the fisheries to facilitate management. Technical Report KMF/RS/2017/B2.5(iv), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Mombasa.
- Valencia, A., Andrieu, J., Nzioka, A., Cancio, I., and Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. (2017). Target gene transcription levels along the HPG-axis of female, male and intersex thicklip grey mullets from a polluted harbour. XI Congress of Iberian Association for Comparative Endocrinology, Vigo, Galicia, Spain, 13th – 15th July, 2017.
- Valencia, A., Andrieu, J., Nzioka, A., Cancio, I., and Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. (2017). Alterations in gene expression in the HPG-axis of female, male and intersex mullets from a polluted harbour. 19th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms (PRIMO 19), Matsuyama, Japan, 30th June – 3rd July, 2017.
- Valencia, A., Andrieu, J., Nzioka, A., Cancio, I., and Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. (2017). Relationship between the brain and the gonad in the reproductive process: Changes in the transcription of key genes during gametogenesis in the thicklip grey mullet Chelon labrosus, from Pasaia harbour. Science and natural sciences, IkerGazte (Paper 66). 7pp.
- Mutua, A. N. (2016). Gametogenesis related genes and apoptosis marker genes during the reproductive cycle of the thicklip grey mullet (Chelon labrosus Riso, 1927) of Pasaia Harbour (Bay of Biscay, South-western Europe); Possibilities for development of molecular markers of xenoestrogenic exposure (Master’s thesis).
- Valencia, A., Andrieu, J., Nzioka, A., Cancio, I., and Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. (2016). Transcriptional profiles of HPG-axis related genes in female, male and intersex thicklip grey mullets (Chelon labrosus). 8ISFE: 8th International Symposium on Fish Endocrinology, Gothenburg Sweden. July, 2016.
- Valencia, A., Andrieu, J., Nzioka, A., Cancio, I., and Ortiz-Zarragoitia, M. (2016). Brain and gonadal transcriptional profiles of HPG-axis related genes in female, male and intersex thicklip grey mullets (Chelon labrosus). Aquaculture, Endocrinology and Toxicology Abstracts, 220. VI Iberian Congress of Ichthyology, Murcia, Spain. 21st – 24th June, 2016.
- (2015). Lamu Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Assessment Technical Report: Research Geared towards Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Management of Kenya’s Coastal and Marine Resources, KMFRI technical report series, Mombasa, pp.45
- Nyonje BM, Gwada PO, Ochiewo J, Mwangi SN, Okuku EO, Anyango JO, Nzioka AM and Magangi NO. (2013). Introduction of the seaweed Kappapycus alvarezi in the South Coast of Kenya : Seaweed farming progress report. 41 pg.