Kiyoko has always been passionate about both art and science. This first led to a career as a professional ballet dancer with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal (LGBC). While a dancer, she was also committed to helping the community in general. Personal experiences inspired her to help organize a benefit performance that raised $10,000 for the Saku Koivu Foundation, a non-profit organization that funded the purchase of a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) camera for the Montreal General Hospital, the first such machine in Montreal.
In 2004, she retired from LGBC and returned to school as an undergraduate at McGill University. She was actively involved in the McGill undergraduate community serving in executive positions on the Mature and Re-Entry Student Association, Daraja (Students Connecting with Africa), the McGill University Photographic Society, and the McGill Biology Student Union. She has continued her studies as a PhD candidate at McGill and continues to be actively involved in the graduate community serving as an executive on the Biology Graduate Student Association.
Kiyoko believes it is very important to encourage younger generations to become involved in science. Thus, she volunteers for “Let’s Talk Science,” an organization that coordinates workshops and outreach events for students. She also mentors undergraduate students to provide opportunities for them to develop and conduct their own independent projects. To increase public awareness of science, she is also a member of the Outreach Committee for the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution.
She has been inspired and mentored by many strong, brilliant women in both ballet and biology, and she fully intends to give back to the community by becoming a mentor herself, as a professor of ecology and evolution, to inspire the next generation of young students.