Student and Alumni Highlights


Meet three students who joined the 2017-18 program!

Tekateteke (Kate) Metai

Tekateteke (Kate) Metai calls herself an Island girl and likes to be called Kate. She comes from the Island of Makin and Tarawa in Kiribati, the island nation in the Central Pacific Ocean.  She earned her BS in Marine Science from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. There she was awarded the “Progressive Student of the Year” from the Kiribati government. She has been awarded a scholarship sponsored by the PHOENIX ISLANDS PROTECTED AREAS TRUST to pursue the Master of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation this 2017-18 academic year. Her goal is to learn and understand the interconnection of People and their Ocean in a scientific, economic and policy perspectives, so she returns to her island with knowledge and skills gained at Scripps to help the citizens of Kiribati in protecting, managing and conserving their Ocean. Her favorite quote is “Learn and Dive to Protect Your Ocean, Your Future.”

Kelsey Miller

Kelsey Miller is from Toronto, Canada where she developed a passion for marine conservation despite being landlocked, and learned to SCUBA dive at age 13 in Georgian Bay. She earned an interdisciplinary degree in English Literature, Biology, and Indigenous Studies from the University of Toronto where she graduated with High Distinction. After earning her degree, she co-founded a NGO called Science Rendezvous and served as executive director for six years, growing the grass-roots initiative to its current status as the largest outreach organization in Canada with over 6,000 volunteers and 300,000 attendees. She also started the Indigenous Science Program to bring Science Rendezvous to remote communities across the country, with a particular emphasis on building relationships with Indigenous communities and respecting Traditional Knowledge. Kelsey is excited to be returning to marine conservation by pursuing a Master’s degree here at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and plans to continue focusing on community-based initiatives.

Natalia (Naty) Teryda grew up in a small town called Miramar on the coast of Argentina, where she started with marine conservation efforts at the age of 14.

She received her BS degree in Biology from the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. While studying there she volunteered in a summer program in an Uruguayan marine turtle conservation project. During the last 7 years, she has specialized in marine debris pollution, and its effects on fauna and in human coastal communities. She recently traveled to the United States with the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) program. She was selected by the US Embassy in Argentina to represent Argentina as a Youth Ambassador in the IVLP Program organized by the U.S. Department of State called “Our Oceans, Young Ambassadors.” She has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue the MAS Program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation in the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


Students in the MAS MBC program come to the program with a wide variety of backgrounds, and pursue a wide variety of career paths after graduating from the program.  Featured here are alumni who have taken different career paths, including working for a federal government agency (NOAA), science education, pursuing a PhD in marine biology, and coming soon, working for a non-profit organization.

Lynn Massey works for the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region in Long Beach, California, where she drafts fisheries regulations for coastal pelagic species (sardine, mackerel, anchovy) and assists with the San Gabriel River Sea Turtle Monitoring Project co-led by the Aquarium of the Pacific and NOAA Fisheries. Lynn grew up in the Sonoran Desert of Tucson, Arizona, where she studied Environmental Science at the University of Arizona for seven years. Lynn's passion for marine conservation sparked during her Master's program when she studied green sea turtle foraging ecology in the Galapagos Islands and the pollutant buffering capacity of microbes and viruses in the lagoon waters of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Lynn spent time in the private sector working for an environmental consulting firm in Long Beach, where she worked on assessment and remediation projects for soil and groundwater-contaminated sites across Southern California. For her Capstone Project, Lynn traveled to El Salvador to study a women's group leading sea turtle conservation efforts in a small coastal community called Barra de Santiago. After her career with NOAA, Lynn hopes to return to Tucson and start her own non-profit organization meant to educate Tucson desert-dwellers about the importance of marine conservation.

Yat-Long “Sam” Poon, MAS MBC 2013, dedicates his life and work to science education. Sam splits time between teaching and filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Sam collaborates with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to produce videos for StarTalk and other web-based science education programs. When he is not producing videos, Sam imparts his knowledge and expertise as a professor of biology and environmental science at San Diego Miramar College and The Art Institute of California. Sam continues to seek new opportunities to bring science to the public, taking his Capstone Independent Research Project Remixing Education to the next level.



Daniel Conley, MAS MBC 2013, is currently a fourth year of the Biological Oceanography PhD program here at Scripps.  He studies how coral bleaching effects the spectral signatures of corals.  His main question is how does the spectral signature of corals change over the course of a bleaching event and into the recovery.  Understanding this would allow us to better understand what we are seeing in imagery derived from remote sensing platforms in space. Currently, he is running lab experiments that aim to characterize this process by taking daily spectral readings throughout an induce bleaching event and into the recovery of the corals.  This will be followed up with Spectral Data collection from the field.

Prior to starting the PhD program, Daniel completed the yearlong MAS MBC program and says he found it to be an invaluable year spent learning new skills, broadening his knowledge base, and forging new relationships and networks that are still with him to this day.  The program prepared him for life as a PhD student because it allowed him the opportunity to complete his first major solo scientific study while providing the resources to take him to Japan to pursue his research interests as part of his Capstone Independent Research Project, Relationships between the Japanese Style MPA System and Coral Cover in Ishigaki, Japan.​

Daniel plans to defend his thesis in the summer of 2020.