My name is Karina

I’m a Toro

For first-generation college student Karina (B.S. Biology, ’18), CSUDH provided an opportunity to turn her love for plants into hands-on research at a Harvard summer program and the start of an exciting career. Her next project? Creating more opportunities for kids to discover their own future in science. 

The biology major says “I wanted to do something in the science field, and I’ve always been fascinated by plants.” Taking a course with Professor Kathryn Theiss helped her see plant science as a potential career. “She was definitely a mentor; she took me under her wing, and helped me do research in her lab.”

Theiss also guided Karina towards programs she hadn’t known existed. “She told me there were opportunities to travel and do your own independent research, and so I started looking into programs.” One of them was the Harvard Forest Summer Research program, a 4,000-acre ecological research site and outdoor laboratory in Cambridge, MA. “With Harvard, I just wanted to take a chance – apply and see what happens. I got to go for 11 weeks, and I got to do independent research."

"I learned a lot about the research process, from asking questions, to collecting data, to presenting our findings to other scientists. I got to bring that experience back with me to CSUDH. Now a paper of mine is being published in an ecology journal called Ecosphere.”

Now graduated, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree and eventually wants to teach. Karina is also thinking about how to share her journey with the next generation, “I want to create a bridge program for high school students that gets them involved in science early on. That's something I wish I had growing up.”