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Sydney P

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of California San Diego (UCSD)


Marine microbiology, phytoplankton ecology and physiology, oceanography, marine environmental issues


As an undergraduate, I studied biology and became involved in marine and medicinal chemistry research. I recently graduated with my PhD in July 2022 from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, where I studied ecology and physiology of marine microbes. More specifically, I interrogated the health of marine microscopic algae and how reactive chemicals they release into the their environment can influence interactions with other microbes as well as global cycling of nutrients, carbon, and oxygen. Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher Scripps Institution of Oceanography continuing my research from my PhD and am also teaching Environmental and Oceanic science undergraduates at the University of San Diego. When not in the lab, I love going hiking and camping in southern California (the desert is my sanctuary!), hanging out at the beach or local park, and reading or listening to books. I am eager to mentor students so I can provide and share experiences that have excited me about science!

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.

Exploring marine microbe protein trends in the global ocean

In this project, you will learn how marine microbes accomplish tasks with proteins such as metabolizing. Then you will use online databases to see how many and which microbes use a particular protein you are interested in, where they are using this protein, and which environmental factors affect abundance of this protein. For example, if temperature or light affect the abundance of a particular protein, this may mean there could be changes in how microbes use this protein in the future due to climate change.

What triggers phytoplankton blooms off the Southern California coast?

In this project, you will learn what environmental conditions stimulate microscopic algae (aka phytoplankton) blooms off the coast of Southern California. Specifically, you will search through publicly available datasets of environmental physical, chemical, and biological data (such as temperature, nutrient concentrations, algae abundance) collected by scientists and use statistics to identify factors affecting phytoplankton blooms. Data could be presented and discussed in a conference poster or journal publication.

Teaching experience

I have previously mentored three National Science Foundation sponsored undergraduate interns in my lab on a research project that we developed together. One of the projects was published in a scientific journal article that the intern was a co-author on. I have also taught undergraduates in Introduction to Oceanic and Atmospheric Science labs, Organisms and Ecosystems labs, and guest lectured in an undergraduate Environmental Biology and Chemistry courses.


Work experience

University of California San Diego - Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2022 - Current)
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of California San Diego - Scripps Institution of Oceanography & University of Georgia (2016 - 2022)
Graduate Research Assistant & NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Valdosta State University (2014 - 2016)
Research Assistant
University of San Diego (2022 - Current)


Valdosta State University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2014)
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2022)

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