Sonya Sankaran

Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin

Undergraduate Education: B.S. Ecology, Behavior, Evolution

University of California, San Diego, 2002

Work experience before MLML?

I worked in Costa Rica for the Monteverde Conservation League for two years, and then in Bangalore, India with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment on the Coastal and Marine Conservation Programme for a year.  I also worked on a grassland bird habitat fragmentation study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Some questions for Sonya:

Q: Why did you decide to pursue marine science?

A: My work in Costa Rica and India got me interested in the land/sea interface and the effects of coastal development on marine and aquatic systems.

Q: What experiences and opportunities have shaped your path to get you where you are now?

A: Working abroad gave me a unique perspective on global conservation issues, and my work in the phycology lab has taught me about the role of aquatic and marine algae and plants in water quality and foodwebs.

Q: What are you studying and why is it interesting and important to you?

A: I’m studying the influence of nitrate on trace metal uptake by the seaweed Ulva.  It is important to me because nitrate and trace metal pollution often occur together, and related algal blooms often follow.  I am interested in the interaction between these two factors, and how metal uptake by algae may be passed on to higher trophic levels.

Q: What are you hoping or planning to do when you finish?

A: I would like to work in integrated aquaculture or waste water treatment using algae as a tool for nitrate and/or trace metal absorption.

Q: What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of graduate school?

A: The number of amazing opportunities to take part in interesting projects and the chance to meet people working on cutting edge research is a great privilege!  It offers many ideas and networking opportunities to develop your own project.  However, it also makes it hard to buckle down and get through your own work sometimes.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get in to marine science?

A: Volunteer or work as a field assistant as much as possible before you enter the MLML grad program. It is really important to have some insight into research and fieldwork methods and possible research questions.  It is just as important as academics when it comes to your success as a grad student.

Find Out More!

Check out Sonya’s research in the Phycology Lab:


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