Lead Bloggers

Get to know the Drop-In’s Blog Team! Click on the names or photos below to read each student’s road to marine science and be on the look out for their regular contributions to the Drop-In.

Catherine Drake, Invertebrate Zoology Lab

“Growing up, my parents would take me to the beach and teach me the wonders of the oceans.  As a result, my parents shaped me into becoming compassionate about protecting the oceans and marine organisms.  One opportunity that really taught me the importance of habitat protection and species conservation was the research I took part in during my undergraduate studies at UCI.  I did research at a freshwater marsh that was home to many endangered plant and animal species, and without that experience, I would never have properly appreciated all the ecological complexities within a habitat.”  Read more

Heather Fulton-Bennett, Phycology Lab

“I am studying phycology, more specifically, the common intertidal kelp Egregia menziesii. This species has a highly plastic morphology and is a foundation species in the rocky intertidal. My thesis will look into the physiological adaptations that may be linked to morphology, as well the as the affect different E. menziesii forms have on their community and their own new recruits.”  Read more

Jessica Jang, Pacific Shark Research Center


“Since I was child I was always interested in the oceans, it also helped that I was born in Hawaii, so I could not ignore the big blue wilderness even if I wanted to. When I was two, my parents moved to Seattle, and would take me to the Seattle Aquarium every week. They would spend countless hours with me wandering through the exhibits and noting the amazing creatures that call the ocean their home.” Read more

Scott Miller, Ichthyology Lab

ScottMillerMainPhotoGrowing up, I spent most of my summers at Conneaut Lake, a little lake north of Pittsburgh. Through boating, fishing, catching turtles, and simply observing the wildlife, I developed a deep interest in aquatic ecology. Going into college, I actually wanted to study freshwater turtles, but after learning to dive and taking a marine biology course at Clemson, my interests began to shift towards the oceans. I began to work in a lab that studied blue crabs, and after my first weekend of field work, cruising around the ACE river basin in South Carolina, watching dolphins swim alongside the boat and seeing the myriad of unique creatures in our samples, I was hooked on marine research.” Read more

Melissa Nehmens, Pacific Shark Research Center

Melissa Nehmens“As I grew up going to the beaches in Northern California, I loved poking around the tide pools and I always wanted to know what the creatures that I saw were called. I think that is how it carried over into academics for me; I would use library time at school to research what I know now as anemones, sea urchins and sea stars. From there, I was hooked, I continually wanted to know more about the organisms within the ocean and the more I learned the deeper in love I fell with the whole idea of being a Marine Scientist. In high school I solidified that my love of the ocean could also be a career path for me. Since then I have had my sights set and here I am.” Read More

Catarina Pien, Pacific Shark Research Center


I had a variety of experiences that led me to where I am, mostly in the form of internships and independent studies. I wasn’t sure what aspect of marine science I wanted to study, and have explored fields involving aquatic invasive plants, marine molecular ecology/ microbiology, museum taxonomy, marine mammal stranding,  and mangrove and coral reef ecology.  I really enjoyed the field research I did in Central America (Panama/ Costa Rica for study abroad, Utila, Honduras for an internship) – the water surrounding mangroves is one of the most beautiful sites to me, the intricate red roots covered by invertebrates and fish weaving in and out of the roots. The experiences made me want to understand organisms in their environment, and how characteristics of organisms (life history traits) were an important part of understanding their behavior in the environment. Read more.

Emily Schmeltzer, Invertebrate Zoology Lab

Emily“I’m studying marine invertebrates and reef ecology in Indonesia. One of my reasons for becoming a scientist was focusing on conserving biodiversity, and the Coral Triangle is host to an incredible amount of ocean diversity. It would be terrible to see any species disappear and affect the entire ecosystem and community.” Read more

June Shrestha, Ichthyology Lab

June Shrestha

Nearly every kid at some point wants to be a marine biologist; we’re just the ones that followed through!” Read more

“From the deepest depths to the mysteries held within –
it’s undeniable our oceans are a wonder to behold.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

–E.E. Cummings

Kristin Walovich, Pacific Shark Research Center

 “I choose marine biology because being stuck knee deep in mud, smelling like fish, perpetual mask and wetsuit tan lines and getting my hands dirty sounded like a fantastic profession. I think all marine biologists have chosen their profession because we have a passion for the creatures we study and the ocean in which they live in.”  Read more

Angela Zepp, Geological Oceanography Lab

Angela ZeppGrowing up in the landlocked state of Missouri instills in one the idea that the ocean is a mysterious “delicacy” if you will, in that you only see it on vacations.  Generally, Midwesterners tend to fear the ocean completely or are enchanted by it. I chose the latter.” Read More