Kristen McKinley

Kristen McKinley

What is your previous work experience?
During my undergraduate degree, I worked in several departmental labs as a technician. The responsibilities ranged from executing kit-based DNA extraction of loblolly pine tissue and running gel electrophoresis to collecting groundwater and soil samples from land around a hog waste lagoon. For two summers I interned in the savanna of Brazil and gathered data for small research projects looking at how tree species relate to fire and drought. Since graduation I have worked for an environmental lab performing GC analysis on air emission samples, sometimes travelling to industrial sites for on-site testing.

Why did you choose the Nicholas School?
I chose the Nicholas School for several reasons. The coursework of the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health concentration appeals greatly to my academic interests of contaminant chemistry and environmental fate of pollutants. Also, Duke and NSOE are uniquely positioned with access to local resources like UNC-CH, NCSU, EPA, NIEHS, and RTI as well as on-campus research centers. I hope to utilize these connections during my time at Duke.

Do you have any areas of interest or special focus you will undertake during your time at the Nicholas School?
My concentration will be Ecotoxicology and Environmental Health. I plan on getting a certificate through the geospatial program. I am interested in working with the Duke Wetland Center, the Center for Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology, or the Superfund Research Center.

What are you looking forward to as a new Nicholas School student?
As a new Nicholas School student, I am most looking forward to engaging with fellow students and faculty. 

What are you doing this summer before you arrive at the Nicholas School?
During the summer I will be continuing my usual workload as a GC analyst while training my coworkers to assume the responsibilities of my position when I leave in the fall. Additionally, I will be studying statistics, calculus, and chemistry to prepare myself for the transition from the workforce to school.

What are your plans for future work of employment?
After graduating, I hope to work as an environmental leader who investigates and addresses soil and water pollution through bioremediation.

Employment Sought:


environmental compliance
environmental health
project management

Graduation Date

May 2018

Preferred Location


Preferred Sector

Business / Industry
Entrepreneur / Start-up
Federal Government
Non-profit / NGO
Research Institute / Think Tank
State / Local Government