Real-World Research, Three Internships Steer Kimberly Nuñez ’23 to Biology MA

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology
Minor: Chemistry and Environmental Justice
Cohort: PRISMMacaulay Honors
On-Campus Role: Tutor at Math and Science Resource Center
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Career aspiration: Marine Biologist and Environment Policy Advisor

Kimberly Nunez

“I always dreamt of working as a marine biologist and helping shape environmental justice policies,” says Kimberly Nuñez ’23, a PRISM and Macaulay Honors senior who is earning a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology. “It’s why I came to John Jay and joined PRISM, because I knew it would put me on the path to career success. This fall, I get one step closer to realizing my dream as I enter the marine biology master’s program at University College Cork, Ireland.

How did PRISM help prepare you for graduate school?
It’s made me more confident in my research abilities and helped me realize I belong in science. PRISM was the first time I came up with my own project ideas and drove my own research forward with the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Anthony Carpi. The program opened up a world of opportunities for me—including an internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, one of the country’s best marine science research facilities—and ultimately led to my decision to go to grad school.

How did Dr. Carpi’s mentorship help shape your goals?
Dr. Carpi is an amazing mentor who goes out of his way to reach out and help his students succeed at John Jay and beyond. For my research on the effect of water on the transport of mercury in soil, he connected me with scientists who could help me bring my research to its highest potential, he ensured I was on track to meeting my goals, and continually encouraged me to pursue a post-graduate degree. Having him as a mentor demonstrated to me the type of mentor I want to be: forward-thinking, supportive, kind, and persistent.

Tell us about your internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 
It was a three-month internship last summer, where I worked with my mentor, Kristin Meyer-Kaiser, researching how communities on the sea floor in the Arctic are changing. Part of my role was image analysis, where I identified different species, counted their numbers, and gathered data. It was such an eye-opening experience because I was able to see all the good that can be done in the world with a science degree.

What made you decide to pursue a master’s degree at University College Cork?
I’ve always wanted to study abroad and learned that University College Cork had a top-notch marine biology master’s program. Since I’m coming from John Jay, where my background is in cell and molecular biology and environmental justice, I wanted to make sure I enrolled in a master’s program that would provide me with a broader view of the marine biology field. I’m excited to learn about marine mammals and marine organisms, conduct research, be in the marine environment, and work on a boat.

Ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
I hope to be an established marine biologist, researcher, and advocate. I would love to help advance policies aimed at conserving our oceans and planet. The goal is to have worked on meaningful research and, using that research, inform and educate elected officials so that they can create environmental policies that improve the health of our world.

What will be going through your mind when you cross the stage at Commencement?
My mom and my sister. They’ve been my biggest supporters, so I’m dedicating this accomplishment to them. My mom raised us as a single mother while working full-time and going to school full-time to earn her degree. Throughout my life, I’ve seen my mom’s ambition and drive to succeed daily. She inspired me to never give up on my dreams.