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Spring 2022: Mediterranean Exploration

Laurie McConnico

Cuesta College

Laurie McConnico is a marine ecologist and biology professor at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA. She is a native Californian who grew up in Fresno (the very hot, land-locked central valley). Her interests in marine biology developed as a child, often camping on the central coast with her family (although her mother does not like to admit to having once tolerated camping). She earned a BS in Biology from UC San Diego and her MS in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Labs. While studying at Moss Landing, Laurie started working with seaweeds and fell in love with Baja California, where she ultimately completed her PhD at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur.

Laurie teaches undergraduate courses in oceanography, marine biology, ecology, marine botany, general biology, applied and environmental microbiology, and field studies. She received the Pete Pedersen and Alpha Gamma Sigma awards for teaching excellence. She enjoys working with students and is passionate about teaching field courses that take her students throughout the central coast of CA, Big Sur, and the Channel Islands. Laurie and her colleagues also developed a study abroad field program in Baja, México where students explore marine ecology and gain undergraduate research experience.

Research and professional highlights for Laurie, so far, include diving 2 miles below the ocean’s surface in the Alvin Submersible, SCUBA diving the Northwestern Hawaiian Island atolls, dodging manatees in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, living and working at sea, studying rhodolith communities and eelgrass slime molds, seaweed hunting along the coasts of the USA, Panama, Baja, and Costa Rica, and of course sailing with Semester at Sea!

In addition to teaching and research, Laurie enjoys laughing, traveling, hiking, pressing algae (it’s like pressing flowers, only cooler!), spending time in Mexico with Josue and Perla (the dog), and anything to do with the ocean. She speaks Spanish, doesn’t own a smart phone, considers salsa her favorite food, drives a Subaru Outback with 272K miles and is still mourning the loss of Tom Petty. She sailed with Semester at Sea for the first time in Spring 2019 and is looking forward to this adventure with all of you.