Alumni Interview – Caitlin Cridland
1. How many years were you at Santa Maria College and in which year did you graduate?
I attended Santa Maria for five years, from Year 8 to Year 12, and graduated in 2011.
2. Tell us about your tennis career in the US.
I was fortunate enough to receive a full athletic scholarship to play tennis at Winthrop University in South Carolina in the US. I played tennis for the Winthrop Eagles for five years, receiving my Bachelor’s degree in 2017. During that time, we won our conference championship four out of the five years, and competed in the NCAA national team championships four times.
After graduating in 2017, I was awarded the Big South Woman of the Year, for athletic and academic success and contributions to the local community. Attending college in the US as a student-athlete allowed me to travel around the US, playing tennis and meeting people from all over the world.
3. What led you to become a scientist? What is the subject of your PhD?
I am currently working towards a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Virginia Tech, studying the signalling pathways involved in phosphate sensing in plants. Our research group is interested in understanding how plants sense and respond to changing nutrient levels. Our goal is to ultimately use this information to increase crop yield with reduced fertilizer usage and implement strategies to control fertilizer run-off and phosphate pollution.
I have been interested in science from a young age and developed a fascination with how chemical reactions dictate biological processes. My Year 11 and 12 chemistry and biology classes really reinforced my interest in biochemistry, and science in general, as a future career path.
4. What did you take from your time at Santa Maria?
I loved my time at Santa Maria and felt it really prepared me well for university. The support from teachers at Santa Maria of both my tennis and academic career was instrumental in receiving an athletic scholarship in the U.S.
5. What advice would you give to current students at the school?
Make the most of all your opportunities and don’t be afraid to try something new. The thought of living in a new country where I knew no-one was scary, but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. And of course, work hard at the things you enjoy and opportunities will come your way.