Faculty and Staff

Cinda Scott, PhD

Cinda Scott, PhD

Center Director
Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Fisheries, Molecular Evolutionary Genomics
University of Miami (FL, USA)
Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program
Columbia University (NY, USA)
B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies, Spanish minor
Middlebury College (VT, USA)
BIOL 1101 Introduction to Biology Lecture and Laboratory
New York City College of Technology, Brooklyn, NY 2011-2014
SFS 2070 Language Culture and Society of Panama
The School for Field Studies
SFS 4910 Directed Research
The School for Field Studies
SFS 3530 Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Monitoring and Management
The School for Field Studies
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Faculty Profile

In 1998, I ventured to Golfito, Costa Rica to study Tropical Marine Biology for one semester. I learned how to scuba dive and my life was forever changed. The exposure to underwater ecosystems and organisms led me on a path to understand the significance of the biological and genetic diversity that exists within and between all species.

Since completing my PhD in 2009, with a research focus on the heritability of evolved differences in gene expression to better understand the biological significance of genetic variation, I decided to explore an important and pressing issue that continues to affect the education of young people in the United States; low retention of students, particularly women and minority students, in science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) programs. Prior to joining the School for Field Studies, I served as the National Science Foundation Innovation through Institutional Innovation (I3) Program Manager at New York City College of Technology. In this role, I worked to bring more real-world, hands-on opportunities for students in STEM laboratories to encourage students to pursue degrees in STEM. The objectives of the project included bridging basic mathematics and science with applied technology by creating new interdisciplinary laboratory content as well as adopting laboratory pedagogy that fosters active learning and problem solving rather than rote memorization. I consistently worked with both students and faculty members to understand what was needed to improve laboratory learning. My teaching experience as an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology at City Tech aided my understanding of the student experience at a large urban, commuter, Minority Serving Institution (MSI). I have been an advocate for students to be provided with greater opportunities in STEM research and I worked closely with the Provost, the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research to study trends in STEM learning in order to make significant and sustained institutional change.

My interests lie at the crossroads of providing once in a lifetime educational experiences and opportunities for students and the conservation of ocean spaces. I am thrilled to be part of the TIBS, Panama program where I weave together my expertise in marine biology, program management and undergraduate education. My educational and professional background includes grant writing implementation and management, STEM undergraduate education program development and management, strategic planning, broadening student participation in STEM, marine biology, faculty professional development and teaching and mentoring students, strategic advising, and ocean equity initiatives.

Academics & Research

Research Interests

My research interests have varied greatly over the years, but I have always been captivated by marine organisms, especially fish. As an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to work side by side with some of the foremost marine biologists at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine. While there, I used marine organisms, specifically Squalus acanthias, to understand molecular mechanisms of human disease such as cystic fibrosis. As a graduate student, my work originally focused on diseases in marine organisms with a particular focus on cancer in fish. I completed my graduate work in marine molecular evolutionary genomics and focused my research on answering questions regarding the variation in mRNA expression and whether the heritability of gene expression is primarily a function of genetics or the environment. I look forward to working with the TIBS faculty team to continue to develop and implement the Five-Year Research Plan.

Professional Affiliations

The Big Blue and You, Board Director.
2022 - Present
New England Science and Sailing Foundation, Board Director.
2020 - Present
Black Women in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Science, Board Director, Founding Member.
2019 - Present
Bocas Hope Spot, Member of the Board, Co-author.
2020 - Present
Ciudad del Saber, Affiliate Member.
2016 - Present
Association of the Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean Chair of the Communications Committee, 2017-2022. Board Member, 2016 - present.
2021 - Present
La Asociación Panameña para el Avance de la Ciencia (APANAC), Member.
2020 - Present
Black in Marine Science, Member.

Research Projects

Projects prior to SFS

The Genetic Basis of Evolved Differences in Gene Expression in Fundulus heteroclitus

As a graduate student, I investigated the genetic basis of evolved differences in gene expression in Fundulus heteroclitus.   My research specifically focused on the role of the environment and its effects on the variation in gene expression within and between populations of F. heteroclitus.  cDNA microarrays containing F. heteroclitus cardiac metabolic genes were used to determine whether a genetic component of gene expression can describe the variation in gene expression between inbred and outbred individuals from the same population.  The results showed that variation in mRNA expression is related to the genetic variation among individuals within a group. The heritability of the variation in gene expression was estimated to determine the genetic basis of gene expression in F1 individuals from natural, outbred populations of F. heteroclitus.  The estimates of heritability range from 0.25 to 0.86 depending on the estimation method with approximately 6.5% of genes having significant heritability. The results support the concept that genetic variation affects variation in mRNA expression among natural populations of F. heteroclitus. The overall significance of this work is that natural, heritable variation in gene expression is important for understanding evolutionary adaptation and the role of natural selection in evolutionary processes.  The quantification of the variation in gene expression between individuals is important for understanding how much of the variation in expression is explained by evolution by natural selection. More importantly, estimates of the genetic component of the variation in gene expression allows for more specific detection of deficiencies or mutations in particular regions of a genome. Studies using natural populations of Fundulus heteroclitus remain important to the overall understanding of genetic variation and its biological importance.  This research was funded by NIH, NIEHS, NOAA EPP, NACME and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.



The Role of Research and Training Institutions in Tourism Destimation Governance in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Scott, C. P. & Mach, L. (2018). The Role of Research and Training Institutions in Tourism Destimation Governance in Bocas del Toro, Panama. In D.O. Suman and A.K. Spalding (Eds), Coastal Resources of Bocas del Toto, Panama: Tourism and Development Pressures and the Quest for Sustainability. Pp 91-118. University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL: Editora Geminis.

All Hands on Deck: Using Case Studies to Support Institutional Change.

Scott, C. P., August, B., & Eggers-Piérola, C. (2013). In R. Lansiquot (Ed.), Cases on Interdisciplinary Research Trends in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Studies on Urban Classrooms (pp. 320-348). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-2214-2.ch013

The Effect of Genetic and Environmental Variation on Metabolic Gene Expression.

Scott CP, Williams, DA, Crawford DL (2009). Molecular Ecology 18(13), p2832-2843

Technical Analysis of cDNA Microarrays

Scott CP, VanWye J, McDonald MD, Crawford DL (2009). PLoS ONE 4(2): e4486.


“Cultural Competence in Conservation: Bocas Culture and Regional Environmental Threats”, Invited Speaker, Oregon State University visiting course, Isla Colón, Bocas del Toro, Panamá.

September 2022: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

“Procedural Key Performance Indicators (PKPI) for Assessing Global Ocean Equity” Ocean Nexus UN Ocean Conference Side Event, Question and Answer Invited Panelist, Lisbon, Portugal via Zoom.

June 2022: United Nations Ocean Conference 2022

“The Human Impact on Coral Reefs and Marine Habitats”, Invited Class Speaker Grade 7, Baltimore, Maryland via Zoom.

June 2022- Baltimore County Public Schools

Invited Panelist, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL via Zoom.

February 2022- BIPOC in Marine Science

Teacher training series “Indagar, aprender y conservar: una aventura de ciencia con Smithsonian 2021”, Invited Guest Speaker, Almirante and Bocas Town, Bocas del Toro, Panamá via Zoom.

February 2021- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and Ministerio de Educación (MEDUCA) Panamá,

The City Tech I-Cubed Incubator: An evidence-based approach to fostering and sustaining institutional change

March 2014: Improving the Undergraduate STEM Experience, Technical Education Resource Centers (TERC) and the National Science Foundation Summative Assessment of the Innovation through Institutional Integration (I-Cubed) Program, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., poster presentation.

Examples and Outcomes of the Use of Case Studies in STEM Laboratories and Classrooms

April 2013: Kapi’olani Community College and New York City College of Technology Faculty Exchange, Case Study Workshop, Kapi’olani Community College, Honolulu, HI, event coordinator and presenter.

Using Case Studies to Support Interdisciplinary STEM Curricula

Nov 2012: Network for Academic Renewal Conference, Next-Generation STEM Learning: Investigate, Innovate, Inspire, Kansas City, Missouri, workshop presenter.

Applying to the BNYDC Anchors Internship

September 2012 and February 2013- Brooklyn Navy Yard Anchors Internship Information Session, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Brooklyn, NY, event coordinator, presenter.

Developing an Internal Online Data Sharing and Reporting System for City Tech NSF Projects

June 2012: NSF JAM, Joint Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, poster presentation.

A Woman’s Guide to Shameless Self Promotion: How to compete by using key words and phrases in your resume, personal statements and interviews

March 2012: Young Women in STEM Workshop, New York City College of Technology, New York, NY, event coordinator, moderator and speaker.

Accomplishments, Lessons Learned, and Challenges in Implementing an I3 Award with a Broadening Participation Strand

June 2011: Quality Education for Minorities Network, Workshop on Broadening Participation Efforts within National Science Foundation funded Innovation through Institutional Integration Projects, Baltimore, MD, workshop participant and presenter.

The effect of genetics and environmental variation on gene expression in the teleost fish, Fundulus heteroclitus

June 2008: Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, Annual Meeting, Barcelona, Spain, poster presentation.

Microarray Analysis (Module 5) and Introduction to QTL mapping (Module 10).

June 2006: Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics, Module attendee, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

Toward understanding the lifecycle of the etiologic agent of Damselfish Neurofibromatosis: Insights using in vitro techniques

June 2005: Society for Experimental Biology Main Meeting, Barcelona, Spain, poster presentation.