Kristen Mitchell headshot photo

Kristen Mitchell

Science/Data Team
STEM Outreach and In House Laboratory Research Support
Office of Naval Research

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

In my scientific career I mostly used chemistry as a tool to understand Earth systems and how life adapted to and caused change within those systems. Now, I mostly work as a science communicator working across, government and industry.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

In 4th grade I participated in the Jason Project. Once I saw the hydrothermal vents and the animals that lived there I wanted to understand how that was possible. I have been studying marine chemistry in one form or another ever since.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

My high school biology and chemistry teachers, and my parents who encouraged my eccentric science interests.

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

I get to study the origin of life by studying the chemistry of really old rocks. I recently got to visit the stromatolites, one of the earliest life forms on Earth, in Australia.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

Worked with the Nautilus Live team to connect the Navy's internship students to an amazing opportunity to see the type of work they do in the labs at work in the field.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

Eckerd College was a an amazing launching point for me to complete a Fulbright Fellowship in biogeochemistry in Denmark. I subsequently worked at 3 universities in 3 countries during my PhD after moving twice with my supervisor. Moving twice was not ideal but it gave me lots of experience working at different universities, including a fourth university where I was never a student but I worked at most continuously throughout my PhD. After finishing my PhD I became a AAAS Science and Technology Fellow in Congress and Political Appointee Obama Administration. I never expected to work in policy and politics when I started my Marine Science degree but it opened up a large number of opportunities to continue to build my career.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Marine (Chemistry) Science, Eckerd College, 2005; Master of Science in System Earth Modeling, Utrecht University, 2007; Master of Science in Earth and Atmospheric Science, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011, Doctor of Philosophy in Non-Traditional Stable Isotope Geochemistry Utrecht University, 2012

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy yoga, reading, hiking, sailing, traveling, exploring museums and libraries and hanging out with my two small dogs.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Explore all opportunities within and outside your major, you will be surprised at how the skills you learn doing something different can be applied to your major. Communication is key no matter what you do.


Kristen participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: