Dr. Maria Lourdes ‘Deng’ Palomares is a Senior Scientist and Project Manager of the Sea Around Us (since June 2017). She was born in Manila, Philippines, and grew up outside the old walled city of Intramuros during the difficult days of the Marcos Regime. After completing her BSc in 1981 at the University of the Philippines (UP), she ventured into computer science, completing several courses in COBOL and BASIC programming. In 1982, she joined the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) as a research assistant to Dr. John Munro and Dr. Daniel Pauly. She completed her MSc in Environmental Science in 1987 at UP and in 1989, she pursued a Ph.D. at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse with Dr. Jacques Moreau. This move added French to the list of languages she masters (fluency in English and Tagalog; reading Spanish).
In 1991, she rejoined ICLARM as a postdoctoral fellow with the FishBase Project, as a recipient of a two-year grant from the Association des Universités Partiellement ou Entièrement de Langue Française (AUPELF, Paris, France). In 1996, her language and computer skills coupled with her background in fisheries science and ecological modeling led to her appointment as Software Development and Database Scientist for the FishBase team. In September 2001, she was appointed as adjunct professor with the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna.
In 2001, she joined the Sea Around Us located at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. At the beginning, her tasks included assuring that the integration of fish-related data generated by members of the Sea Around Us and of the Institute into FishBase. She remains with the Sea Around Us, where her responsibilities have been increasing with time. From research associate she moved up to senior scientist and, as of June 2017, she became Project Manager.
Among the highlights of her most recent work are the leading of the Sea Around Us the database team, working with the Vulcan Foundation, to improve the project’s infrastructure and website. In June 2016, Deng also ventured into grant-writing and, together with Dr. Daniel Pauly, successfully raised funds from different sources to bridge the team funding to 2017.
Also in 2017, Deng was asked to lead Quantitative Aquatics (Q-quatics) as its CEO. This Philippine NGO was built, among others, to host the Sea Around Us Consortium.