Katherine Mackey

Katherine Mackey
3088 Samueli Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697
Earth System Science
Associate Professor of Earth System Science

Katherine Mackey joined the Department of Earth System Science at UC Irvine in September 2014 as the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor. Her research looks at the causes and consequences of photosynthetic diversity in phytoplankton. She is interested in understanding how photosynthesis shapes, and is shaped by, biological, chemical, and physical processes in the ocean. Dr. Mackey uses field and  laboratory methods to uncover the underlying biogeochemical factors that allow different species to dominate different regions, particularly in dynamic environments impacted by global change. She enjoys using interdisciplinary research approaches to answer questions about how the Earth System will respond to environmental change in the future. 


Before joining UCI, Mackey was a postdoctoral researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory, where she used proteomics to study the effect of iron limitation on marine phytoplankton. Mackey completed her Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Engineering and Botany at the University of Maryland, and earned her Masters and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. She has been an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, a Fellow in the Department of Energy Global Change Research Program, and an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Biology. She recently received the inaugural Marion Milligan Mason Award for women in the chemical sciences from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Group Website

Ph.D., Stanford University, 2010 

M.S., Stanford University, 2004 

B.S., University of Maryland, College Park, 2002 

Mackey studies the boundary between the living and the nonliving worlds. She wants to know how those two worlds define one other, as things like aquatic microorganisms can alter the chemistry of the water they live in, and vice versa.