August 16, 2022
We recently spoke with Kendall Scarlett about her research as well as her new status as a finalist for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program. Kendall is currently a Ph.D. candidate in our Environmental Sciences program and, as a Knauss Fellow, she has a seat at the table concerning national policy that impacts our environment. Her research and commitment to environmental science are great examples of the work being done by students and faculty alike at Baylor.
Why did you seek out the Knauss Fellowship?
The Knauss Fellowship provides a unique experience for graduate students to contribute to national policy decisions that impact our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. As a scientist, I spend the majority of my time currently in the lab performing experiments. Although I love performing experiments, I have always been curious about how results such as mine apply in the real world. In addition to my scientific pursuits, I have spent my graduate school career advocating for graduate and professional students both locally and nationally through various organizations. Due to my academic and professional opportunities and accomplishments, I knew this fellowship was perfect for me. \
What opportunities does this open up for you and your research?
As HABs become more prevalent in both freshwater and marine sources, further information is needed for developing appropriate water guidelines for diverse uses and management policies. Even more so, better conservation and management of potentially impacted water sources is needed for sustainable coastal communities. Serving as a Knauss fellow will provide me with further knowledge and experience to effectively participate in drafting and implementing crucial environmental policies and legislation. It is the perfect opportunity as a scientist to take a step beyond the laboratory and see the impact that my own research could make. Furthermore, this allows me to interact with other scientists and create meaningful connections and potential collaborations.
What research excites you right now?
Growing up along the Florida coastline, my love for the environment blossomed at a very young age. As a child, I began to be curious about the impact that humans had on the environment. My research involves understanding how the natural toxin, cylindrospermopsin, is produced from Harmful Algal Blooms and the adverse impacts on both environmental and human health. I find cylindrospermopsin particularly interesting because it is a mystery. Limited information is known in regard to its impact, and my research aims to provide some clarity about the impact to humans and aquatic species by focusing on both molecular and behavioral consequences associated with potential exposure. Along with my specific research, I am also really interested in learning more about other environmental contaminants (i.e., pharmaceuticals) and their general impacts on water quality. I hope to continue investigating and improving ways to make overall water quality safe for all humans and wildlife after I leave Baylor.
How do you achieve your research at Baylor?
My dissertation research is part of a large collaborative effort with the NIEHS Center for Ocean and Human Health and Climate Change focusing on the potential impact of cyanotoxins produced from Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). I am grateful to be a part of this collaboration, as they have provided me with both funding and resources to perform research here at Baylor. In addition, I have also received further funding through Baylor's Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, and more specifically through the C. Gus Glasscock, Jr. award for Excellence in Environmental Sciences. Baylor has provided me with the resources and knowledge to make me a better scientist.