In 1972 when Miriam Kastner was invited to join the faculty of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, she was the first female university professor at the then 69-year-old institute. Opportunities for women in the sciences were few, and she was more than pleased with the "extraordinary possibilities to engage in new research with state-of-the-art facilities and great seagoing opportunities" as a Scripps researcher and UCSD university professor. (Quote from UCSD News Center)
Almost 40 years later, Kastner is a distinguished full professor at UCSD/Scripps and the latest recipient of the prestigious Francis Shepard Medal bestowed by the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM). Dr. Kastner was recognized for her outstanding work in geochemistry. She also recently received the Scripps Undergraduate Instructor Teaching Excellence Award and has been a strong advocate of promoting undergraduate oceanography education with funding and seagoing research opportunities. She regularly directs and mentors more graduate and undergraduate research assistants than many other university professors combined.
Kastner's work in the geology and geochemistry of marine sediments has taken her out to sea and around the world many times to study sub-seafloor deposits and the process called diagenesis, in which sedimentary deposits become rock. As a doctoral student in geology at Harvard in the late 60's she was able to become involved with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, which fueled her interest in the marine environment.
In 2006 Professor Kastner was interviewed as part of an oral history project. When asked what the most profound change was that she had witnessed in her years as a marine scientist, she replied:
"The recognition that the Earth functions as a system. It was very obvious to some of us a long time ago. Also, over the past thirty years, the field of paleoceanography evolved into an important, almost new field with an important off-shoot in chemical paleoceanography. In other words, understanding the history of seawater chemistry by using multiple proxies. The Drilling Project was essential for both developments. More recently, the ice cores studies. The first publication from the ice cores showed the changes in CO2 and methane in the atmosphere at the last glacial/interglacial period was a real breakthrough— a major impact on peoples’ thinking on ocean-atmosphere processes in terms of short timescales versus long timescales. It was always thought in geology we have a lot of time and suddenly we realized that things can happen very quickly."
Professor Kastner also recalled, with humor, her first lab at Scripps in 1972: completely empty. Lab equipment required NSF funding and funding required some previous research success (which was difficult to acquire without equipment). She passed up two generous offers to join more established labs and pieced together funding for her own research, which proved to be a sound decision in the long-run if difficult initially. Her work over the years has earned her the distinction of being a first-rank scientist with a vibrant, popular research lab.
If you are a research lab supply vendor, a San Diego area life science researcher, university professor, or UCSD purchasing agent, you should plan to attend the Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. San Diego Biotechnology Vendor Showcase™ Event. This life science laboratory product show and research networking event is held twice-annually on the UCSD campus. The event, now in its 18th year, is an excellent opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with life science and medical science researchers and to learn about up-to-date laboratory products, science supplies and analytical equipment. This San Diego Research community event will next be held on August 25, 2011.