After receiving instruction in biology, Dr. Aguilera obtained a doctoral degree in oceanography at the University of Concepción (2010) with a thesis on the carbon cycle and the pelagic trophic dynamics of the upwelling systems off the Chilean coast. In order to explain the prevalence and biological success of plankton in this dynamic environment, Dr. Aguilera conducted his research on the basis of experimental ecology and also used many biochemical and molecular tools. Some of the results of his research work indicate that there are rapid micro-phytoplankton successions in response to changes in an aquatic environment greatly affected by upwelling; these result in smaller zooplankton high reproductive efficiency and secondary production. The knowledge Dr. Aguilera acquired about plankton ecology in upwelling environments in the Humboldt system made it possible for him to do a 3-year-long Fondecyt postdoc in 2011, during which he evaluated the effects of geographic variations in salinity and the system of carbonates related to climate change on zooplankton life history traits. This project was supported by the Aquatic Systems Research Unit at EULA-Chile Environmental Research Center in cooperation with the project ANILLO ACT-132. The most important result of this research was the establishment of the role of environmental history in zooplankton acclimation and responses to modulators of climate change (CO2 and temperature). After finishing his postdoc (2014), Dr. Aguilera joined the Institute of Natural Sciences Alexander von Humboldt at the University of Antofagasta, where he worked as an assistant professor for three years. At that educational institution, Dr. Aguilera carried out a Fondecyt Initiation Project seeking to evaluate coupling between pH phenology in an area of permanent upwelling and the biology of dominating zooplankton species. Dr. Aguilera is currently (2017) living in Coquimbo and works as a researcher at the Center for Dryland Studies (CEAZA). He is also a member of the Latin American (LAOCA) and Global (GOA-ON) Ocean Acidification Network.
Research Areas: biological oceanography, experimental ecology, ocean acidification, phenotypic plasticity and adaptation of plankton.