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Rising PROfile: Carine Marshall

Carine Marshall loves plants.

So much so that she’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in plant biology from University of California, Berkeley, where she also received a Bachelor in Science in genetics and plant biology in 2009.

After talking with Carine for just a few minutes, her passion for plants becomes apparent. Carine

For me, plants are the silent warriors of this planet. They feed, shelter and provide so much beauty to us. I discovered that I loved biology in high school. The more I learned, the more I realized it was the biology of plants that fascinated me most.

Carine has always let this passion guide her career decisions.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, she found a job in Los Angeles as the head biologist of Advanced Lab Group, a cooperative that designs the economical and sustainable production of algae biodiesel. During this time, Carine designed and outfitted the biology lab to research potential algae strains to use in biofuel production. However, it was not long before she decided to move on.

I quickly realized that plants, and not algae, were my true passion.

After leaving her first job, Carine used the next three years to travel, work, play and rediscover her passion for plants.

Carine traveled through Europe for three months with her then boyfriend, now husband. When she returned, Carine began working in a tissue culture lab of a flowering bulb company in her hometown of Santa Cruz, CA. One year later, she and her boyfriend moved to France for six months to work and live on her family’s small farm. During this time, she studied for the GREs in preparation for grad school.

In the fall of 2011, they moved back to the U.S. and worked a ski season in South Lake Tahoe, which had always been a dream of theirs. While in Tahoe, Carine was also busy applying to graduate schools and interviewing at universities across the country. By May 2012, she decided to return to Berkeley for graduate school.

Looking back over those three years, Carine said she learned three very important things:

1) I learned how to work in a business. Few people in academia have ventured into the “industry” and have thus never learned what it takes to work for a business.

2) Taking the time to experience life and enjoy yourself are as important a use of time as gaining work and professional experience. I’m so thankful I took the time to travel and enjoy myself before I went to graduate school.

3) I rediscovered my passion for learning and biology, which led to my decision to return to graduate school.

Now three years into the program, Carine is working toward completing her doctorate by 2017. One of the interesting things she’s currently studying is the circadian clock in plants. She’s discovering how plants sense temperature and light cues from the environment so that they can regulate their circadian clock and, in turn, their whole physiology. She is also teaching undergraduate students, a requirement of grad school, which she truly loves.

Teaching is absolutely one of my favorite things. Although it takes a lot of time, I find that it comes as naturally as walking to me. I am thankful for this because I know it is not the case for most people. Teaching intelligent and curious students about biology, a field I am so passionate about, is incredible. I can help them discover everything that inspired me when I was a student.

Carine’s current focus is to complete and publish unique scientific research in respected science journals. She is also applying to fellowships and attending industry conferences, as well as looking into learning new fields and skills, such as bioinformatics and computational biology.

Outside of graduate school, Carine also volunteers at elementary schools throughout Oakland, teaching kids about science experiments.

Upon graduating, Carine hopes to work for a biotech company to get some industry experience, but may eventually pursue her other passion for teaching and work at a community college, state school or liberal arts college.

Carine has achieved a lot since she graduated from college in 2009, and along the way, she has worked with a lot of inspiring mentors who have helped fuel her passion.

My boss at the flowering bulb company was a big inspiration to me–women in the science field are always an inspiration. I also am very inspired by my current advisor, who comes to lab everyday with unlimited curiosity and enthusiasm. He is a wonderful mentor and always respects my opinion and work.

As someone who has always pursued her true passions, Carine has some advice for other rising professionals.

Always have purpose to what you do, and do things for the right reason. Don’t go to graduate school because you don’t know what to do next. Don’t work in a company just for the money. Be passionate about what you do. You will always do better and inspire others if you are passionate too.

Although Carine is constantly busy, she always makes time to enjoy living the Bay Area. Namely, she loves to hike, eat, drink good beer, cook, read and watch the San Francisco Giants.

 Learn more about Carine and what she’s working on by listening to her KALX radio interview and reading her published work, ‘Circadian clock genes universally control key agricultural traits,’ in Molecular Plant[1].     

[1] Claire Bendix, Carine M. Marshall, Frank G. Harmon, Circadian clock genes universally control key agricultural traits. Molecular Plant. Available online 13 March 2015. ISSN 1674-2052; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2015.03.003

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