Rob Ulrich


I am gay and I am a biogeochemistry PhD student. //

I’m finishing my first year as a geochemistry PhD student at UCLA studying biomineralization. Specifically, I use the responses of marine organisms to climate change to learn about how they make their shells. While my research has implications for materials science and environmental remediation efforts, I am mostly doing this in the context of reconstructing past climates. When shells/skeletons/teeth form, they record chemical signatures that correlate to the conditions in which they grew. For marine organisms, a big assumption is that the signatures being recorded correlate to the seawater at the time of formation. This assumption does not seem to be true—the biology makes it a lot more complicated than that. So, nowadays I’m teaching myself a lot of biology and biochemistry, which is FASCINATING! Also, I’ve started a group at UCLA called Queers in STEM to create a space for LGBTQ+ students, postdocs, and faculty in STEM to come together. It’s going really well so far!