Fourth-year biology student Kimberly Randolph is the first CSUDH student to be named an African American Scholar of the Aquarium of the Pacific, an honor which includes a $10,000 scholarship and educational opportunities with the Aquarium.
Randolph, originally from Modesto, Calif., is among ten exceptional California university students chosen for the 2023 award. Though she didn’t grow up on the coast, as a child Randolph became interested in marine biology thanks to the BBC Planet Earth series and the gift of a pet hermit crab.
“I started doing my own research on how to recreate hermit crabs’ natural environments, and how it helps them thrive” she says. “It made me think that people need to be more aware of how we take care of our planet and sustain certain environments.”
Randolph came to CSUDH as a biology major with a pre-med focus, but after taking a few ecology courses, eventually changed her specialty to ecology and environmental science.
“Our planet is so big, and there’s so much to learn and study, that I felt I could make more of a difference in ecology than in the medical field,” she says.
Now, thanks to the prestigious Aquarium award, she has the chance to do exactly that. Randolph plans to get scuba certified this summer, and is looking forward to working alongside Aquarium conservationists and researchers. She hopes that the award will help to jump-start her career in marine biology, and is considering pursuing conservation or studying ocean microbiomes in the future.
Ultimately, Randolph strives to be an inspiration to Black girls interested in STEM, as they are too often underrepresented and unseen in scientific careers.
“Elementary school students should see people who look like them working in science,” she says. “I would have liked to have seen more of that when I was growing up. I want to be someone that other Black students can look up to.”