Kate Schoenrock grew up in Half Moon Bay, California, exploring the intertidal, in the waves and on the beaches, and later diving in the kelp forests between Big Sur and Marin county in California. By the time she went to college at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), she knew that she wanted to be a marine biologist. She began her work experience in a marine mammal physiology lab where she spent three years as an assistant animal trainer. However the field of marine mammal physiology is limited and did not encompass the questions that most interested Kate. She went on to work for a graduate student in a field ecology lab her senior year at UCSC, and did her senior thesis using SCUBA to conduct studies of macroalgal diversity along the Big Sur coast in California.
Her work in Big Sur developed into a three year career as a research assistant and diver for various graduate students and professors at UCSC, as well as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Geological Survey based out of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. During this time period she was privileged to work along the central coast of California, the coast of Kenya, and with the US Fish & Wildlife Service on Midway Atoll. Kate regards her work experiences up to this point as the best textbook in science anyone could obtain. During her work as a research assistant Kate instructed undergraduates in a marine botany lab and taught an undergraduate, now PhD hopeful, how to do research. "The most gratifying thing about research is using it as a teaching tool. The stories that come out of field research help people grasp some of the most difficult concepts in biology in a fun way."
Kate joined the UAB research team in 2009 to research filamentous species of algae (endophytes) which form symbioses with larger species algae when they grow throughout the surface of their blades. She is now working on her PhD at UAB which continues to investigate the relationship between the endophytes and their host algae. "From an evolutionary angle, endosymbioses are incredibly interesting. In such an isolated place as Antarctica this relationship between algae could drive adaptation and give us insight into communities that we haven't had before." She will also look at climate change impacts on the subtidal algal community using increased temperatures and decrease seawater pH as representative parameters. She has always had a great interest in algae wherever she has worked, and is extremely excited to continue her research in Antarctica. After graduate school Kate hopes to continue teaching and research in algal ecology and physiology.
- Written by Kate