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Esmeralda Hic

I am a Earth System Science and Chicano/Latino Studies double major. My passion for the health of the environment stems from the experiences I had growing up in the Coachella Valley. My community faces many different environmental and social problems, most notably the deterioration of the Salton Sea ecosystem. Witnessing the harsh realities that my hometown faced in regards to social and economic injustices alongside the deterioration of our environment sparked my interests and passions for environmental justice. I hope to earn both my B.S. and B.A. and find a way to use science as activism to influence policy and legislation that will ultimately help protect my community, and various other marginalized communities, from the devastating effects of climate change that are to come.


My undergraduate research in the University of California, Irvine Earth System Science department focuses on picophytoplankton communities alongside the Newport coast. I am using previously collected using incubation samples and conducting microscopy and flow cytometry analysis. The samples of phytoplankton have all been collected under various nutrient input scenarios in order to better understand how different nutrients in the ocean impact different types of phytoplankton as well as the simulated effects of upwelling on these communities. I am also helping to analyze samples from the Salton Sea to characterize the impacts of contaminated playa dust on microbial populations in the Salton Sea, as these are the last remnants of the ecosystem that remain extant as the Sea continues to evaporate and increase in salinity. My research is supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).

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