Carina Motta

Major: Ecology and Evolution

CSEP Affiliation: EUREKA

Where is your hometown?

Santa Ynez, California.  I live at home and commute to UCSB.

Why did you decide to participate in EUREKA?

I heard about Eureka because I did SIMS in the summer before my first year of college, and I was encouraged to apply for EUREKA in my second year of college.  All of my close friends here are people I met through SIMS.

Tell me about your experience in EUREKA.

I did field work at Tajon ranch with Hillary Young’s lab.  I would be out there for 3 to 4 days at a time, studying how the loss of biodiversity and climate change is impacting tickborne disease.  It was so much fun.

What are you most proud of from your experience in EUREKA?

I am really proud of myself for jumping into the fieldwork.  We were up at 6 AM every day and were out in the fields all day until sunset.  It was rigorous, but I felt validated and knew that I could do this as a career.

How has participating in EUREKA influenced your future plans?

Participating in EUREKA definitely solidified my idea of what I want to do it in the future. I would love to become a research professor at a university as an ecology and evolution faculty member.  I want to do research on things that are applicable to solving problems like climate change.

What is something you wish people knew about your field? 

I wish people realized how complex ecology is, you have to go to such great lengths to take into account all of the factors. Because you're looking at the environment, you have to study the soil, the plants, and the organisms—it is a big picture thing.

What did you want to be when you were younger? Is that still an interest of yours?

First I wanted to be a marine biologist, then an ornithologist (someone who studies birds), so I’ve always been interested in ecology.

Do you have any advice for people interested in participating in EUREKA?

Be passionate about what you want to do and make sure you are doing something you are willing to dedicate yourself to.  Always try to go the extra mile.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love going birding!  My favorite bird is the California scrub jay; I've trained them to come take peanuts from my hand.


The EUREKA! program is designed to enrich the academic experience of undergraduates at UCSB in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) disciplines early on in their educational careers. The program is focused on introducing students in their first year to the broader science community on campus and providing exposure to research through academic year internships.






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