About Kai Burrus


(415) 338-7680




BiologyCollege of Science and Engineering


Hensill Hall (HH)



At SF State Since:



Dr. Laura (Kai) Burrus
pronouns: she/they

BS in Chemistry - College of William and Mary (1986)

PhD in Biochemistry - University of Wisconsin-Madison (1991)

Post-doc in Developmental Biology - Harvard University (1996)

Dr. Burrus is currently transitioning her research from understanding the biochemical and cellular mechanisms underlying Wnt gradient formation in chick embryos to analyzing the role of microbes in climate change resilience. This transition is motivated by her love of the outdoors along with the recognition that climate change is inherently racist. In the words of Hop Hopkins, "You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can't have disposable people without racism."

To this end, Kai helped envision and launch the new Certificate in Climate Change Causes, Impacts, and Solutions and is a Co-Director of the Climate Justice Leaders Initiative. Dr. Burrus is also engaged in pedagogical innovation and is pioneering new approaches to effectively communicate research to scientific and lay communities. As one of five LGBTQIA biology faculty in the Dept of Biology at SFSU, she brings unique perspectives and recently collaborated on research exploring how biology faculty language used in classrooms may influence feelings of inclusivity.