Candidate for Member at Large: Katherine Mackey

Katharine Mackey

Ph.D. 2010 Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, USA


Biographical Information

Dr. Kate Mackey is the Clare Boothe Luce Associate Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine. She leads a large, dynamic lab of talented graduate and undergraduate students who work together and share a passion for research, teaching, science outreach, and promoting diversity in academia. Mackey was named a Simons Foundation Fellow in Marine Microbial Ecology in 2018, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Ocean Sciences in 2017, and was awarded the inaugural Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015. Mackey completed postdoctoral research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Cape Cod Massachusetts, where she was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 2004 and 2010, respectively, and held graduate research fellowships from both the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. She earned two B.S. degrees in Biological Engineering and Plant Science in 2002 at the University of Maryland at College Park.

The Mackey Lab group is dedicated to science outreach and regularly conducts activities to involve underserved communities into science education. Examples of these activities can be viewed on Mackey's website at One recent event to highlight is our participation in the Borrego Springs Summer Learning Academy. While conducting field work on the Salton Sea and staying at the UCI Anza Borrego Field station, the Mackey Lab conducted three science outreach activities with students from disadvantaged schools who were attending a summer Learning Academy. In the first activity, we led a graphing activity with middle schoolers in a math class based on phytoplankton counts using a microscope and projector. In the second activity, we worked with high schoolers who had recently come to the US, and who were learning to speak and write in English. We watched a brief documentary on the Salton Sea, and the students then wrote letters to their Congressional representative about saving the Sea. The lesson was led in a mixture of English and Spanish - a first for us! It was fun when the students could help us with our Spanish as we helped them with their English. In the third activity, we taught elementary schoolers in a reading class about marine food webs. Students made "food chains" out of construction paper, and practiced reading out loud about marine organisms in their chains. The unifying approach in our outreach activities is the inclusion of hands-on activities so that all learners are actively engaged, in order to demonsrate that science is fun and that all learners can be empowered to learn science.

Candidate Statement

I view service as an opportunity to support individuals and create meaningful change within our community. When participating in service activities, my goal is to elevate all members of the community by considering how decisions and policies affect people who have different backgrounds or needs. This applies to both personal diversity (e.g., ethnicity, gender, age) and academic diversity (e.g. members of different departments or career stages). As a member of the ASLO Board of Directors, I will work diligently to uphold these values within the organization and the broader marine science community in order to strengthen the quality and reach of marine science research.

I am dedicated to helping develop and sustain an inclusive climate within the scientific community. I regularly arrange and serve on panels at scientific meetings, including the Ocean Sciences meetings, to support early career women and underrepresented minorities by answering questions about work-life balance, offering advice, and pointing them toward supportive resources. Through my committee work within scientific organizations, I provide mentorship and representation for other early career researchers, particularly women. I draw attention to the importance of inclusive excellence and highlight the many strengths it brings to research. I speak candidly about the challenges faced by women in academia and offer advice from my own experiences. I make my contact information available so that people can reach me if they need to talk or want advice. I also take steps to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to apply to our undergraduate and graduate programs.

Via my participation with various scientific organizations, I have had the opportunity to serve the greater scientific community. I served a two-year term as the Early Career Representative of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Ocean Science Executive Committee, a group tasked with representing marine scientists within the broader context of AGU. My responsibilities included helping plan early career events at the international meetings, allocating travel grants for students, and soliciting and voting on individuals to receive the various Ocean Sciences awards each year. I provided a voice to represent early career women within the organization.

I was selected to serve on the Ocean Atmosphere Interaction Committee (OAIC) sponsored by the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) and the Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) groups. This new committee is tasked with identifying important new research directions in the field, formulating summaries, and providing them to funding agencies. We also organized and ran a three-day workshop in which participants applied to attend to identify emerging interdisciplinary research themes regarding to air-sea exchange. We selected attendees based on their particular focal areas and career stage. I also proposed that applicants be asked to identify how they contribute to supporting diversity and inclusive excellence, and the committee agreed to include that prompt in the application.

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