Florida State University, BS Chemistry

PhD Student, Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry

MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography


Luciana is currently a 2nd-year PhD student in the Joint Program with MIT and WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). She studies chemical oceanography and hopes to use her knowledge of chemistry to understand biogeochemical processes in marine environments. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Florida State University, but her love for nature merged with her passion for science helped her find her way to the field she is in now. Luciana shares “As a first-generation student and Hispanic immigrant, getting to this stage in my life has not been easy, but it has certainly been facilitated by tremendous support from family and mentors”.

Luciana’s Story

What are your future career plans or interests? How did you become interested in this career path?

When I started graduate school, my goal was to get a PhD and go on to work in a national lab as a researcher. This was fueled by my love of spending time in the lab. Through many experiences at MIT, I have gotten to explore areas such as science communication, science policy, and teaching. This has expanded my areas of interest and made me question my initial career plans. Now, I can’t say I know exactly what I want to do, but I am continuing to take advantage of opportunities that will help me figure that out.

What was the biggest takeaway(s) from your mentoring circle experience?

My experience with the mentoring circle was unlike any other kind of mentoring I have been a part of, as it involved a small group of students as well as two mentors. My mentors had invaluable wisdom that they were happy to share. Their thought-provoking questions helped me see mentoring in a different light. Furthermore, being in a group of peers and hearing about how they are navigating graduate school and facing some of the same challenges I have faced made me feel comforted and supported. Having this avenue to talk about my own experiences and to listen to those of others was empowering and insightful.

What advice would you give to other graduate students seeking to build mentoring relationships?

Seeking mentors can be intimidating and it requires you to be brave and put yourself out there. The reassuring part of this process is that people are generally kind. They want to help you and watch you succeed. To me, a relationship with a mentor can look like a lot of different things. A professional mentor can be late in their career or someone who is just a bit more advanced in their career than you. Communication with a mentor can involve meeting biweekly for coffee or just sending an email a couple of times a year to check-in. What you put into a relationship with a mentor is what you will get out of it.

Work Experience
  • Fall 2021 Mentee
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)