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Steffaney W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California San Diego (UCSD)


Harmful algal blooms; Microbial ecology; Marine Biology; Science Communication & Art


Hello! My name is Steffaney Wood (she/her/hers) and I'm a PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego studying marine chemical biology. Largely, my research focuses on harmful algal bloom (HAB) dynamics, HAB toxin biosynthesis, and molecular phytoplankton ecology. I am also very fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct ship-based oceanographic fieldwork. For my MS thesis and Fulbright-EDUFI Fellowship, I conducted research on life cycle strategies and 'resurrection ecology' of bloom-forming cyanobacteria in the northern Baltic Sea. I am also passionate about science communication and art. I was lucky to participate in a science-art project during my time as a Fulbrighter, showcasing bioluminescent phytoplankton at the LUX Helsinki light festival. I have journalism and science communication experience, formerly serving as news co-editor of the Davidson College student newspaper and current council member of the International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, running, making kombucha, and doing fun macrame projects. I am looking forward to mentoring students who might be interested in HABs, microbial ecology, marine biology, and/or science communication and art.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Social Media Campaign for the International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae (ISSHA)

This project would be great for a student interested in science communication and international research. The student would design a social media and/or website campaign for the International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae (; @issharmfulalgae). The student would have access to interviewing members of the ISSHA council ( to learn more about their research and career paths. The overall goals of this project would be to (1) increase the general public's awareness of HABs and HAB research and (2) increase social media and #sciencetwitter engagement on HAB topics and research.

Harmful algal bloom awareness in your community

The goal of this project would be to increase awareness of harmful algal blooms in the student's local community or region of choice. The student would create a WordPress website (or other platform of choice) to explain and summarize the stressors, outcomes, and hazards associated with harmful algal blooms in local waterways. The website would also aim to connect citizens with local stakeholders to help track and mitigate blooms. This could also include a 'harmful algal bloom tracker' where people of the community can take images of blooms and submit the location. This project could be particularly impactful in a region where lakes, ponds, etc. tend to experience dense cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms in the summer.

Learn about a HAB species of choice

The goal of this project would be to leverage existing scientific literature and/or a publicly available dataset to learn about a particular harmful algal bloom species or aquatic system that interests the student. The findings of the project could be summarized in a podcast, Op-Ed, or scientific article.

Science art & other notes

I could also mentor a student interested in curating a science-art project. Some ideas I have include a project highlighting the ecological significance of phytoplankton (e.g., did you know they produce up to 50% of the world's oxygen?) or incorporating microscopy images of microbes in mixed media art. Overall, I would be glad to mentor any student with an idea for a project related to my expertise. Above are just some ideas that could be used as springboards for more specific projects.

Coding skills



Work experience

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD (2020 - Current)
PhD Student Researcher
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) Marine Research Centre (2018 - 2020)
Fulbright-EDUFI Fellow (Finland); MS thesis student (Univ. of Helsinki)
NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center (2017 - 2017)
Hollings Scholar Intern


Davidson College
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Environmental Studies, Chemistry Minor
University of Helsinki
MS Master of Science
Microbiology & Microbial Biotechnology
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Marine Chemical Biology

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