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Kate Nesbit

I am a current PhD Candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) department at University of California San Diego. Though I was born in Chicago, IL – I have always had an interest in the strange biology found in the sea. I first started working in a research setting as an undergraduate at University of Hawaii at Manoa. I initially volunteered in a marine worm lab and was interested in developmental biology. I later worked on an Honors thesis project that examined molecular components in circadian rhythms in copepods (a marine zooplankton). I quickly decided that I loved the energy of being in a lab, and decided to pursue a Master’s at University of North Carolina Wilmington. While in Wilmington, my MS project focused on biomineralization of siliceous feeding structures in blue crabs throughout the molt cycle. When my time in the MS program was up, I had really set my mind on pursuing a PhD, and thus began my time at SIO. I now get to enjoy working with sea urchin embryos and getting back to my initial interests in developmental biology. My current projects focus on 1) building up a model species of sea urchin for transgenesis, and 2) looking at the role of membrane proteins called ABC transporters in protection of the embryo from chemical pollution. I have been able to learn advanced microscopy techniques, CRISPR gene editing methods, as well as gain strong foundations in molecular and cellular biology. As part of my work, I also help to train and educate other students that are starting their research careers (i.e. undergraduate volunteers). I am very fortunate to have been trained by some wonderful mentors, and always appreciate the chance to pay it forward and help others on their path in science.

Another exciting opportunity that my time at SIO has brought me is the chance to help organize a STEM outreach program called the Scripps Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) program. I have served as a program coordinator for SCOPE for three years. The SCOPE program invites participants from all around the globe to the SIO campus to learn about the ground-breaking research conducted at our institution. We provide tours of active research facilities, such as the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, and provide guest lectures on special research topics like global climate change. Our volunteers, which are primarily graduate students, are the life-blood of the program, and we have had the pleasure of reaching out to thousands of people since the program began in 2001. One of the crowning achievements of SCOPE is our scholarship program which all Title I schools/classes are eligible for. The scholarships help bring students from underserved communities to SIO to experience first-hand what research environments are like, and to interact directly with the scientists that are working to change our world. The SCOPE program has proudly hosted participants from all over, including local tribal communities, as well as international visitors from Europe and Asia. We also partner with WILDCOAST and the Climate Science Alliance in San Diego to bring research to the public and promote environmental stewardship that is backed by evidence-based science. If you’re interested to learn more about the SCOPE program, I would invite you to look us up online at