Kristen is doing her PhD this year at The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences as an XL Catlin Oceans Scholarship recipient. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in marine biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she completed two research theses: one at the University of Western Australia's Kings Park Science Directorate examining the Australian seagrass Posidonia australis and the second at the Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station investigating Macrocystis pyrifera holdfasts.

As an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) certified scientific diver, she has experience volunteering for organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California Department of Fish and Game, and Stanford University. She anticipates using her knowledge of phycology to explore macroalgae in coral reef ecosystems.

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