Siena McKim

Joined: Nov 13, 2017 Last Active: Jun 25, 2024 iNaturalist Monthly Supporter since April 2022

Hello! Thanks for checking out my profile. I am a third-year PhD student at UCSB studying the evolution of silk in Crustacea (amphipods, tanaids, and ostracods). Yes, crustaceans make silk! Most primarily use silk to build tubes and rods they live in or on and can be used for food capture. It's hypothesized that silk has convergently evolved in crustaceans at least 6 times (paper in review). Currently, I'm focusing on identifying silk genes and silk systems in Corophiida and Ampeliscidae amphipods and capturing silk behaviors and structures in Cylindroberelid ostracods. I'm also interested in other silk-producing arthropods (insects, chelicerates, and millipedes) which can illuminate how silk is able to repeatedly evolve in arthropods which appears to have convergently evolved over 28 times.

In addition to being a naturalist and researcher, I am an artist, creating 2D and 3D pieces focusing on the under appreciated invertebrates of southern California. I am constantly looking for ways to educate the public on these organisms so if you have a classroom or program that welcomes scientist, I would love to be your guest! You can take a look at some of my art on my Instagram @imlichentoday

Previously I was the the Algae/Invertebrates Expert and Artist-in-Residence at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps UCSD where I created murals highlighting species in the Marine Protected Areas in La Jolla, San Diego. Since I started SCUBA diving in San Diego in 2019, I have been trying to catalogue and identify all the sub-tidal invertebrates I come across, with a keen interest in sponges, sea slugs, tunicates, and amphipods. With my observations and knowledge gained through the people of iNaturalist, personal research, and my various volunteering positions, I want to teach others about earth's amazing organisms.

I did my undergrad at University of Michigan where I studied Art & Design, and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. During my time at U of M I studied freshwater algae, and published my first paper in the Great Lakes Botanist Journal on a new species of diatom a research partner and I discovered living endosymbiotically in colonies of the ciliate Ophrydium versatile. You can request to read the full text of my paper on my research gate if interested. (

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