Kathleen Munson spent her childhood home-schooled in Francestown, N. H., which allowed her abundant time to explore the outdoors. She was encouraged to pursue science as an undergraduate by inspiring mentors at Smith and Vassar Colleges. Curious about how important the structures of chemicals are for their biological functions, she has studied how strong proteins are when poked, how leukemia develops, and how fish respond neurologically to light exposure. The MIT/WHOI Joint Program gave her a way to combine her scientific curiosity and love of the outdoors. With her Ph.D. advisor at WHOI, Carl Lamborg, Munson has participated in fieldwork in the Sargasso Sea, the Equatorial Pacific, and Cape Cod coastal ponds to learn how mercury is chemically transformed in the environment. When not in the field or in Watson Laboratory, she borrows her friends’ dogs, defeats her boyfriend at Scrabble, and listens for owls on midnight runs through Falmouth. Erin Wayman of EARTH magazine served as her mentor for this article.
(Courtesy of Kathleen Munson)