Katie Luciano

Katie Luciano standing next to a statue of Mary Anning (and Tray, her dog!) in Lyme Regis, England

Katie is the 2019-2022 Secretary/Treasurer for the MCG Division

What is your current professional role?

I’m a coastal geologist with the South Carolina Geological Survey.

What aspects of marine or coastal geoscience do you work on (or have you worked on in the past)?

I’m most interested in coastal geomorphology, particularly understanding current and past barrier island and inlet dynamics, and how salt marshes form and evolve. I’ve also done some work in geophysics, offshore mapping, and sedimentology.

How did you first become interested in science?

I’ve always loved learning about the oceans and coasts, and I knew that I wanted to do something related to environmental or Earth science from a young age. I got hooked on the field as an undergraduate NSF REU student on a multi-disciplinary project in a Massachusetts salt marsh. After that, I knew I wanted a job that would allow me the ability to do field-based research.  

Who have been your greatest mentors?

I’ve been lucky to have worked with some amazing people. While I was at William and Mary, Lynsey LeMay and Carl Friedrichs gave me my first chance at learning about field research, for which I will always be grateful. Scott Harris worked with me as a Masters student at the College of Charleston and introduced me to marine geophysics and offshore mapping. I was lucky to work with John Wehmiller a bit on a project several years ago and learned a lot about geochronology and amino acid racemization. Will Doar, whom I work with at SCGS, has taught me SC Coastal Plain stratigraphy and a myriad of observational field geology and navigational/boating skills that I know I’ll rely on for the rest of my career.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?

Talk to everyone you can about what they do and why they love it. It might inspire you to look into a part of the field you’d never consider otherwise. And reach out to your state geological survey office to learn about the work they're doing! You never know what internships or possibilities might be available. 

Where is your favorite coastal or marine location (includes paleo-coastal or -marine)?

Tough question. I love being in the salt marsh anywhere in coastal South Carolina, and exploring our hammock islands and barrier islands. Worldwide, I think some of the most interesting coastal locations I’ve been to are Koekohe Beach in New Zealand (site of the Moeraki Boulders) and the famous and wonderful mudstone, chalk, and shale cliff beaches on the Dorset coast of southern England.

What are some things (not including work) that you are passionate about?

I love being on the water – boating, kayaking, and (recently) rowing.

You get a chance to relax with your favorite meal and your favorite music- what are you eating and listening to?

Eggplant parmesan + spaghetti, and The Kings of Convenience