Meet the WMIS Leadership!
Ariel Pezner - Co-Director
Ariel (she/her) is a 5th year PhD student in Biological Oceanography, studying carbonate chemistry and hypoxia on coral reefs. She has been a member of WMIS for 5 years, and Co-Director since 2020. She has always loved Growing Up in Science, and thinks it’s an amazing opportunity for students to see how different each scientists’ journey can be!
Alaina Smith - Co-Director
Alaina (she/her) is a 5th year PhD student in Biological Oceanography, studying phytoplankton biogeography and diversity. She has been a member of WMIS for 5 years, and Co-Director since 2020. Her favorite event is the Student Seminar Series because she loves learning more about what everyone studies, what they’re interested in, and who they are as people rather than just researchers.
Anela Akiona - Growing Up in Science Coordinator
Anela (she/her) is a 4th year PhD student in Marine Biology. She studies what determines species distribution on coral reefs, and models how emerging interventions might make reef ecosystems more resilient to negative impacts. She’s been involved with WMIS since 2019, and joined the leadership team in summer 2020. Although she may be biased, her favorite WMIS event is Growing Up in Science. Being able to speak candidly in a safe space with scientists about how they got to where they are (both the good and the bad) is a really unique experience. Each conversation is always so different, and she always finds them very grounding and inspiring.
Shailja Gangrade - Skill Share Coordinator
Shailja (she/her) is a 3rd year PhD student in Biological Oceanography, studying plankton patchiness in coastal upwelling systems. She’s been a member of WMIS since she began at Scripps in 2019, and recently joined WMIS leadership. She loves the WMIS beach hangout events because it’s a great way to unwind at the end of the week with an awesome community. She also says, “Stay tuned for some terrific Skill Share events! These are great activities where we can learn from others, pick up new skills, share cultures, and have some fun.”
Angus Thies - Communications Manager
Angus (he/him) is a 3rd year PhD student in Marine Biology. He studies the physiology of photosymbiotic associations between invertebrates and microalgae. This is his first year as a member of WMIS, and Growing Up in Science events are his favorite because they provide a unique insight into the paths of our peers to their current positions. In particular they help him understand the diverse backgrounds of many of his colleagues.
Eric Snyder - Co-Treasurer
Eric (he/him) is a 5th year PhD student in Applied Ocean Sciences where he studies whale acoustics, tomography, and acoustic source localization. He’s been a part of WMIS and the leadership team since 2018. His favorite WMIS events are those centered around racism, colonialism, and by-stander intervention because they’re very informative and useful for the whole community. He’s also a student parent and involved with the Parents and Caregivers student organization, where they advocate for and share resources to students with dependents at UCSD.
Kelli Mullane - Co-Treasurer & Website Manager
Kelli (she/her) is a 6th year PhD student in Marine Biology. She studies microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that live and thrive in extreme environments, with her work spanning everything from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the search for extraterrestrial life. She’s been a member of WMIS since 2018, but only recently joined the leadership team! Growing Up in Science is her favorite WMIS event. She says that being able to hear about the different paths that people follow (both inside and outside of academia), the hardships they've faced/still face, and how these experiences have shaped them into the scientist (and human!) they are is so amazing. She also says it’s a chance to see a side of these brilliant scientists that you don't get anywhere else, and the lessons learned are invaluable. In her free time she likes to crochet, embroider, bake, and tend to her garden - many of these skills and interests she’s developed through the WMIS Skill Share event!
Monica Thukral - Event Planning
Monica (she/her) is a 4th year PhD student in Marine biology, studying diatoms and small molecules in the ocean. She’s been a part of WMIS since 2019, and loves the WMIS Working Group!
Nat Harris - Event Planning
Nat (she/her) is a 1st year PhD student in Applied Ocean Science. She’s interested in underwater acoustics, and has previously studied how we can use acoustics to characterize sediments and bubbles. This is her first year at Scripps, but WMIS was one of the reasons she decided to study here! She loves the WMIS beach hangout, and thinks it’s a great way to meet people face-to-face after months of Zoom. She’s also really excited for the Growing Up in Science and Skill Share sessions to come. Fun fact: Nat used to figure skate competitively!