Kate Von Krusenstiern headshot photo

Kate Von Krusenstiern

Graduate Research Assistant
University of New Hampshire

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

My graduate research is understanding how estuaries interact with the coastal ocean, and how these interactions impact morphologic change of coastlines. My tool in research is a high resolution, current-wave-sediment transport numerical models that simulate the physical processes in estuaries. In conjunction with modeling, I go out into the field and collect observations to better understand the estuary we are simulating, and to get data that serves to validate the model. For example, I'll use an ADCP to get current measurements, install a tidal gauge to measure changes in sea surface elevation or map the seafloor of the ocean to understand its bathymetry. I work and study at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) at University of New Hampshire. Often I get to participate in research and field work that connects with my broad academic interests: seafloor morphology, geovisualization, and ocean exploration. 

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My professor of geomorphology once stated, "one of the best things about my job is that I consistently find myself at these beautiful places in the world that very few people have a chance to go to, and I get to unravel these secrets of Earth." I was a young undergraduate student, and this statement became a sort of dogma to me, and as I grew intellectually, I pursued opportunities that brought me to incredible places, all in the name of science. A little bit ironically, I was on top of a 6000m mountain in the Peruvian Andes when I became interested in ocean exploration and discovery. The leader of the climbing and science team mentioned in an off comment of research he knew at the bottom of the ocean. My curiosity peaked! Shortly after I served as a mapping intern on the Okeanos of NOAA and I learned how unexplored the ocean is. That four-week research cruise was the true impetus to where I am today. I'm now proud to be apart of the group of scientists that work to further ocean discovery and close the gap of the unknown!

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

There is no one person who influenced me most, but rather a bunch of individuals who inspired and encouraged me. At the top of my head, I think of my parents who taught me about hard work ethic, my undergraduate professors who always took me out in the field, and my current mentors and advisers as an MS student. 

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

Two things come to mind when I think about the most fascinating part of my work. First, is the ability of telepresence on a research vessel. It is incredible that anyone with an internet connection can go online and view exploration in real time. Second, is other people's work. I love the interdisciplinary nature of ocean science and exploration and love learning about the research of others.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

After graduating from university with a bachelor's degree, I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a field assistant for the American Climber Science Program. I traveled to the highest and most glaciated region of tropical glaciers in the world -- the Cordillera Blanca of Peru -- to assist a variety of scientists in exciting, multi-disciplinary mountain science. My ability to be apart of science in far out places, and my desire to learn about this often unknown places, led me to my current standing as a graduate research student. 

What are your degrees and certifications?

I currently hold a BA (2012) in Physical Geography, with minors in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Environmental Geology from Western Washington University. Currently, I am earning an MS in Oceanography.

What are your hobbies?

Rock climbing of all kinds (sport, alpine, trad) and downhill skiing are two hobbies that consume the majority of my free time. I am also cultivating my green thumb this summer in my first garden.

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

Having adjacent skills to your desired career is helpful, and can make you a desirable candidate. For example, my in depth knowledge of geospatial technologies, both open source, and proprietary, have gotten me into dream jobs. My other advice for those seeking to further their studies in a graduate career is getting a handle on a programming language early and always take math/physics classes.

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

An expedition lead of the Nautilus Exploration Program gave a seminar at a research colloquium at my University. She was interested in meeting graduate students wanting some at-sea experience and made a point to go out to lunch with interested students to learn about our own research. I contacted her shortly there after to inquire about positions during the summer. Everything fell into place after that!


Kate participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: