In Their Words: Cassandra Powell

May 18, 2017

Name: Cassandra Powell

College: Cowell

Department: Environmental Studies & Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

What award/scholarship did you receive? Keeley Coastal Scholarship.

What year do you expect to graduate? 2019.

Where do you call home? San Clemente, California.

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out? I chose UCSC because of the amazing research opportunities we have here. I was stuck between a few schools, but I remember the thing that convinced me to commit to Santa Cruz was the feeling I got standing up on campus surrounded by redwoods and looking out at the ocean watching the boats sail by.

What is your field of focus? Formally, I am an environmental studies and ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) combined major, but my focus is an interdisciplinary approach to climate change and the impact on marine ecosystems.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz? I hope to complete my Ph.D. and keep doing meaningful research dealing with climate change so that I can make a difference and protect the ocean.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here? During my time at UCSC so far, one of the most memorable moments I have had here is my interaction with the wildlife of campus. Last spring, I would always go hike upper campus and find meadows to lay out, paint, and take naps in. One particularly beautiful day, I took my watercolors out and went out to paint the flowers that had just started blooming and ended up falling asleep in the grass. When I woke up, there were at least three deer right next to me taking a nap with me. It reaffirmed my love for the campus and I always think about it when I’m walking to class on nice days.

What is your one piece of advice for incoming students about life at UC Santa Cruz? Whenever people ask me about how I got the opportunity to do research and work in the amazing lab I am currently in as only a second year, I always tell them that I just reached out and showed interest and came willing to learn and work hard. UCSC is an amazing school with lots of opportunities, no matter what field you’re in, and I would tell incoming students to go out and find those opportunities early and to not be afraid to put yourself out there.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life/research? With this scholarship, I will be able to travel to Alaska and build upon the research I am currently doing on the impact of ocean acidification and warming on marine communities. Being able to travel up the coast to see how similar communities react in a different environment is very valuable to me and my understanding of the larger effects of climate change. Also, being able to see how communities of people with very different cultures deal with the same problem is a rich cultural and life experience for me.