College of Science

Environmental Science MS

ENSCI Student Defends Thesis on Comparative Metagenomics Study on Bioreactor System in Salinas/Salinas River Valley and the Tijuana River Valley

Connie Machuca recently defended her thesis research “A Comparative Metagenomics Study on Bioreactor System in Salinas, CA, The Salinas River Valley, and The Tijuana River Valley” in front of her committee on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

We reached out to Connie following her successful defense to learn more about her thesis research and overall experience as an Environmental Science graduate student. Check out her interview below for more details. 

Thesis title: "A Comparative Metagenomics Study on Bioreactor System in Salinas, CA, The Salinas River Valley, and The Tijuana River Valley"

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Nathaniel Jue

What did your thesis research entail? 

 I studied the bacteria found within two coastal watersheds in California to understand how diversity, taxonomic classifications, and metabolic potential varied between locations. 

How has your thesis project contributed to your career goals? 

I gained a solid foundation in bioinformatics and genetics, two fields that I have always wanted to use to help understand and solve current environmental problems related to pollution.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student at CSUMB? 

My favorite part of being a graduate student at CSUMB was the immense support I received from not only my professors but also my peers within the Applied Environmental Science (AES) Program. 

What are your plans after graduate school? 

I am starting a full-time position as a biological science technician at the USDA-ARS in Salinas, where I will be studying the genetic properties of fungal pathogens in soils. 

Anything else that you'd like to share 

I could not have accomplished any of this without support from the NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems at CSUMB. I was able to connect with very knowledgeable and supportive research scientists within the field of genetics who helped me make sense of the data I collected. I am especially thankful for Dr. Kelly Goodwin and Dr. Nastassia Patin, who served as my NOAA mentors throughout my entire graduate school career. 

Congratulations on your successful thesis defense and on completing your project, Connie! We look forward to seeing where your professional endeavors take you.