A Fine-Tuned Plan

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UM student and Singer Scholarship recipient Katie Silliman pursues music and marine science.

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The College of Arts and Sciences is on UM's Coral Gables campus, minutes from downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay.

“Music has always been part of my life,” says brass player Katie Silliman, who has performed in school bands since sixth grade. “I wasn’t ready to be done with it.” As a UM freshman last year, she was accepted as a tuba player in the Frost School of Music’s Symphonic Winds and a bass trombonist in one of its three jazz bands.

While making music floats her boat, the New York-born Texas transplant also has known since age 9 that she’s destined to be a marine scientist—which is why she’s juggling majors in biology, marine science, and music.

One of 30 students nationwide awarded a prestigious Singer Scholarship by UM in 2009, Silliman is in her second year as lab assistant to Carla Hurt, a research assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences who is conducting genetic studies of anemone shrimp. Extracting and sequencing the DNA of the marine invertebrates is, Silliman admits, “smelly,” but helps answer questions about how ecological changes affect biodiversity. Not only will she receive credit in an upcoming scientific publication of Hurt’s, Silliman says her mentor has encouraged her to start her own research project.

Active in tae kwon do, scuba club, and the marine studies honor society Rho Rho Rho, Silliman also works as a dorm security assistant to raise funds for study abroad on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. UM, she says, is a great location “for hands-on work in marine science” and “to make friends from around the country and the world.”

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