Jenan Kharbush

Jenan Kharbush | Vlogger, Chemical Oceanographer

Jenan grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, but she fell in love with the ocean the first time she saw it as a child. She immediately decided that she wanted to be a marine biologist and study whales. Even after she’d been talked out of that dream, gone off to college, and decided to go to medical school and get an MD-PhD, the ocean was always in the back of her mind. So when she came across a program called Sea Education Association (SEA) Semester, she knew she had to go. SEA semester is an amazing program where students plan a research project and then carry out that project on a six-week sea voyage, while learning to sail on a tall ship. Thanks to some generous scholarship support (and a last-minute gift from her grandparents!), Jenan embarked on what would turn out to be a life-changing journey. And when she returned, she was determined to be a marine scientist. She ended up at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, CA, where she had a (mostly) fantastic time learning how to science, surf, and play beach soccer, before earning a PhD in Chemical Oceanography. Jenan’s research uses the molecules made by ocean microbes, sometimes called “biomarkers”, as clues to study where and how they live in the ocean, and how they influence global carbon and nutrient cycles. Jenan did a post-doc at Harvard University, focusing on the biomarkers made by phytoplankton, and just started a new job at the University of Michigan studying microbial nutrient cycling in the Great Lakes. It’s kind of funny: although Jenan originally wanted to study the largest creatures in the ocean, she ended up fascinated with the smallest! Don’t get it wrong, though: she still thinks whales are awesome!

Videos from Jenan: