Katie Maloney


Katie Maloney

Meet Katie Maloney! 

  • Program: PhD Candidate

  • Research Area: Rock record and modern glacial environments


1. How did you come to UTM?

I came to UTM to work with Marc Laflamme for my masters and stayed for a PhD. My background was studying the rock record and modern glacial environments. When I arrived at UTM, I became fascinated by ancient fossils and rocks that provide clues to how the Earth’s ecosystems have dramatically changed over time.


2. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a graduate study?

I started my undergrad thinking I wanted to be a doctor. Then in my second year, I had an opportunity to go to Iceland where I learned that there are so many unanswered questions about the processes that have shaped our planet. Mentorship shaped my undergraduate experience and led me to graduate school, which is why I want to inspire new generations of geoscientists through mentorship and outreach.


3. What are your research interests? Tell us few exciting things about your research.

I study ancient life and their paleoenvironments, including seaweed fossils that thrived ~1 billion years ago. Seaweed play an important role in ecosystems because they produce oxygen, form the base of the food chain, and create habitats for more complex life. The seaweed fossils we discovered in Yukon are large enough that we do not need a microscope to spot them, at a time when almost all life was microscopic. These organisms are among the oldest and largest known green macroalgae and can teach us important lessons about evolution during climate change, which will aid in addressing modern challenges related to sustainability and biodiversity.


4. What is your goal when you finish your degree?

I would like to have a career in geoscience research and teaching with an emphasis on interdisciplinary science education and outreach at a university, museum or national park. I am invested in reducing barriers to geoscience education by promoting field safety leadership, mentoring students, leading outreach, and creating an inclusive environment with accessible experiential learning opportunities.


5. Do you have any advice for students considering to pursue graduate studies in research?

Be curious and open to unexpected opportunities! It takes time to figure out what you enjoy doing, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time. Instead, try lots of different experiences to find what makes you excited and fits best with your skills and goals.