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Malia S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of North Carolina at Wilmington


marine biology, biochemistry, conservation biology, ecology, wildlife biology


I am a second year PhD Marine Biology student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. My research focuses on the foraging and reproductive ecology of blue and fin whales from the Southern Ocean. My research uses many biochemistry techniques, which allows me to be well-rounded in science topics. Chemistry has always been a strength of mine, along with biology, and I have taken several courses and labs with varying techniques. While I specialize in marine mammals, I have worked on several wide-ranging projects including: feeding ecology of Florida manatees, migration patterns of Alaskan polar bears, world wide distribution of microplastics in the ocean, tracking beluga whales in rivers in Alaska, seagrass densities in estuaries, water quality analysis in salt marshes in Massachusetts, and calcium carbonate concentrations of Bahamian algae. I also have a strong background in volunteering, public outreach, and host my own weekly podcast (

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.

A World Without Corals

A literature review of cold and/or warm water corals focusing on the knowledge gaps for predictions in future climates. Could be presented as a seminar (~30min) at a school or university and/or written for a high school journal/magazine.

Lionfish, King of the Reefs

A literature review of the lion fish invasion on coral reefs and how their presence has affected native fish species. Could be presented as a seminar (~30min) at a school or university and/or written for a high school journal/magazine.

Is that Oreo Cookie More Important than an Orangutan's Life?

Palm oil is a highly desired ingredient in many foods and products, but harvesting it has lead to habitat loss for several animals including orangutans. Would be a great presentation or interactive program at a zoo or conservation center for informing the public on the consequences of using products with "palm oil" as a listed ingredient.

Coding skills

R and RStudio

Languages I know

Some ASL

Teaching experience

I have been a Teaching Assistant for two years and have mentored undergraduates and graduates in my lab. I have also mentored students through Polygence on various STEM projects.


Work experience

University of North Carolina Wilmington (2020 - Current)
Research Assistant
University of Alaska Fairbanks (2019 - 2020)
Research Assistant
University of Alaska Fairbanks (2018 - 2019)
Teaching Assistant
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (2016 - 2016)


University of Akron Wayne College
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Biology and Biochemistry
University of Alaska - Fairbanks
MS Master of Science
Marine Biology
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Marine Biology

Completed Projects

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