Lekelia “Kiki” Jenkins

Lekelia “Kiki” Jenkins is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, where she grew up fishing and crabbing recreationally on the Chesapeake Bay. During the summers she prowled the grounds of the Baltimore Zoo as a junior zookeeper, learning about endangered species and conservation. A Meyerhoff Scholar and UNCF/Merck Fellow, she graduated with a B.S. in Biology and Dance Minor from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.  As a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, Kiki received her PhD from Duke University by pioneering a new field of study into the invention and adoption of marine conservation technology. Later, she lobbied and gained the support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to host its first ever AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows.  As a Fellow, she served in the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Office of International Affairs, where she helped implement new regulations to address bycatch and illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing by foreign nations. As a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington (UW) she was supported by the Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship and the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship, which is awarded to rising conservation scientists who have the potential to change the face of conservation through entrepreneurial approaches. She later became an Assistant Professor at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs at UW and during this time was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Ocean Sciences. She is now an Associate Professor at Arizona State University in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and has recently been named an AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador and invited to join the National Academies of Sciences Ocean Studies Board.
Kiki’s research interests include:
  • The theoretical and empirical study of the invention and adoption of marine technologies, especially bycatch reduction devices and tidal energy arrays
  • Achieving more sustainable fisheries by studying the best practices for fisheries solutions, such as fisheries learning exchanges, gear substitution, and waste reduction methods
  • The use of science dance for science education, communication, engagement and social change
  • The study of the integration of non-credentialed (i.e. lay) expertise into scientific decision-making
The theories often explored in her research include: diffusion of innovations, interactional expertise, trading zones, and theories of invention. Her research covers field sites along the southeast and west coasts of the United States, along the Gulf of Mexico, in Ecuador, in Mexico and in Costa Rica.
Kiki’s pastimes include watching, teaching, and participating in all forms of dance; mentoring; reading; traveling; eating good food while enjoying a nice view; imagining the possibilities; loving her friends and family; and loving her life.
Selected Honors and Awards (Kiki’s full CV can be found here ; her BIO can be found here)
  • Member, Ocean Studies Board, National Academy of Sciences, 2020
  • AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, 2019
  • First Place, Dance Your Research Competition, International Sea Turtle Society, 2017
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Ocean Sciences, 2013
  • Member, Global Young Academy, 2013
  • Runner-Up, Postdoctoral Category, AAAS Dance Your PhD Contest, 2008