Kierstin Thigpen

Kierstin became a member of MLML’s Ichthyology Lab in Fall 2022. Her love for the ocean and the connected web of creatures beneath its surface carved her path toward a career in Marine Science. Kierstin’s undergraduate experience as an Animal Science major at California Polytechnic State University and her strong background in agriculture allowed her to join not only the Ichthyology Lab but MLML’s Aquaculture Lab as well.

Kierstin plans to use guidance and knowledge from both labs to complete her thesis project, which will focus on utilizing vegetable discards as a sustainable feed option to raise purple sea urchins. The ability to produce high quality uni from purple sea urchins fed with vegetable discards will reduce agricultural waste as well as the greenhouse gas emissions released by the decaying plant matter. This project also supports the restoration of kelp forests in Monterey Bay by incentivizing urchin farmers to harvest wild urchins, reducing the number of grazers challenging kelp forest growth.