Dear BUMP Students, Staff and Faculty,
How can we make society better for everyone? That’s a fundamental question we all face.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have, yet again, thrown the problem of unequal justice into sharp relief. The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate effects on economically disadvantaged communities and communities of color have highlighted gross inequities in healthcare and other systems across the nation. These events expose the persistent, systemic racism that blights our country.
We still have much work to do to make our departments, programs, university, and city more diverse and inclusive. We remain committed to achieving these goals. In our departments and programs, we will increase our efforts to ensure equal opportunities, welcome and train students from groups who are traditionally underrepresented, adopt inclusive pedagogical techniques, and conduct impactful research that benefits society at large. We recognize that these efforts alone will not be enough to address the challenges we face.
We welcome suggestions on how to make our community more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming, and how to ensure our efforts are more effective. We are eager to hear your ideas about how to build a better tomorrow, and we look forward to continuing this work together.
Pete Buston, Director of BU Marine Program
Wally Fulweiler, Former Director of BU Marine Program
Pam Templer, Director of the PhD Program in Biogeoscience
Guido Salvucci, Chair of the Department of Earth & Environment
Kim McCall, Chair of the Department of Biology
Nathan Phillips, Faculty Director of the Earth House Living and Learning Community
For members of our community in need further support, below are some additional BU resources that are free and available remotely:
24/7 Phone: 617-353-3569
Dean of Students Office
Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground
Marsh Chapel, Boston University
Congratulations to all the winners of the 2020 Warren McLeod Fellowships:
Rebecca Branconi - Annual Fellowship
Nicola Kriefall - Summer Fellowship
Claudia Mazur - Summer Fellowship
Karina Scavo- Summer Fellowship
Leah Williams - Summer Fellowship
Yiyang Xu - Summer Fellowship
The Boston University Marine Program Office will be working remotely until further notice. While we are working remotely we aim to maintain all regular administrative roles. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Julia Hammer Mendez; Program Manager; email@example.com
Pete Buston; Marine Program Director; firstname.lastname@example.org
Apply for the Fall 2020 Marine Semester! This year, we are adding new courses and expanding how many options are available to you. Find out more and apply here.
Congratulations to the following students who were chosen to receive the prestigious Warren McLeod Fellowship awards!
Emily Chua - Annual Award Winner
Nicola Kriefall - Summer Award Winner
Tina Barbasch - Summer Award Winner
Robin Francis - Summer Award Winner
James Fifer - Summer Award Winner
Claudia Mazur - Summer Award Winner
Severe tropical cyclones, among many other climate change stressors, currently threaten reef-building corals in the Caribbean Sea. Storms can damage reefs asymmetrically, with reef zones exposed to distinct degrees of physical damage, turbidity, and storm-water runoff. Mounting evidence suggests that algal & bacterial communities hosted by corals play important roles in coping with environmental stressors and can differ significantly across reef zones. However, almost nothing is known regarding the impact of tropical storms on coral-hosted communities, especially in the context of these divergent reef environments. In my current research, I aim to elucidate whether coral-hosted communities from divergent reef zones in the Florida Keys were differentially impacted by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Tissue samples from two coral species (Siderastrea siderea and S. radians) at three paired inshore-offshore transects were collected prior to, directly after, and in the years following Hurricane Irma. By using 16S & ITS2 metabarcoding to identify the members of the bacterial and algal communities present in each coral sample, I will be able to detect shifts in community compositions and whether these shifts differed across reef zones. This summer, I will conduct my final sampling collection, mentor an undergraduate student in final sequencing library preparation and bioinformatic analyses of the sequencing data, and begin manuscript preparation. This study will reveal whether microorganismal communities underpinning coral health appear altered, resistant, or resilient in the face of severe storm disturbance events projected to intensify over the coming century.
Conflict is a pervasive feature of animal societies. Conflicts arise whenever the interests of interacting individuals are not wholly aligned, yet many social interactions require individuals to reach some compromise. Parental care is a classic example of an interaction that is rife with conflict yet requires cooperation because both parents benefit from shifting the burden of care to the other. The outcome of conflict between parents has been modeled using economic game theory models, which assume that individuals act in their best interest but that their optimal behavior depends on how others behave. Studying how conflict among caring parents is resolved is critical to understanding why animals, including humans, form such alliances.
The goal of my research is to test plausible alternative hypotheses for the factors that govern how parents negotiate the amount of care to provide to their offspring, and create a more general framework for understanding conflict resolution. To accomplish this goal, I will build on existing empirical and theoretical work to test alternative hypotheses for how parents negotiate care utilizing a tractable study system: the clown anemonefish. Experiments will be conducted in a natural population of anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) in Papua New Guinea. The anemonefish system allows tests of alternative hypotheses simultaneously, where previous studies have only tested them in isolation. Furthermore, the majority of negotiation studies have been conducted in birds, so developing A. percula will function to test the generality of theoretical predictions. In sum, my research uses a tractable study species together with a rigorous alternative hypothesis testing approach to determine the factors that influence the outcome of negotiations. This research will help to create a more general framework for studying conflict resolution and potentially transform our understanding of negotiations over offspring care.
My research is concerned with understanding fish population persistence through the framework of marine metapopulation dynamics from the starting point of reproductive output. Metapopulation ecology provides a framework in which to parameterize how populations persist: a population must be able to self-replicate, or be connected to other population to re-populate. These criteria are first and foremost controlled by per capita rate of reproduction. My research focuses on (1) determinants of an individual’s reproductive success, (2) the determinants of interdependence of a population’s total reproductive success, and (3) the informative determinants of reproductive success for many taxa of fishes. I aim to address these objectives by performing empirical studies of two emerging model systems: the line-snout goby Elacatinus lori and the clown anemonefish Amphiprion percula.
Individual reproductive success is often highly variable, due to various influences. Focusing on a single model system, E. lori, I aim to measure various characteristics at multiple levels within the system to determine what best predicts determinants of reproductive success.
Collective reproductive output between populations is also often variable. I aim to determine the spatial and temporal determinants of patch-wise independence (i.e., spatial-autocorrelation) in both a continuous reef system (E. lori) and a fragmented reef system (A. percula). This analysis will demonstrate if fish reproductive output may be correlated in space and/or time and how this determines the total number of independent patches within a metapopulation network.
In summary, the objective of my dissertation is to test assumptions regarding reproductive output of populations, the spatial-temporal independence of populations, and investigate the relationship between multiple determinates of reproductive success and realized reproductive output for fishes in general. It is my goal to produce results that will enhance our understanding of reef fish metapopulation dynamics and inform reserve design.
My goal is to address the consequence of range expansion in coral populations. Given corals are major habitat builders, a range shift for these organisms can have cascading impacts on dependent species, populations and ecosystems. Their sensitivity to temperature and rapid dispersal capabilities mark corals as candidates for range expansion under predicted future warming. Additionally, the survival of coral species under a changing climate might depend on their ability to successfully shift their range. I am studying the important reef-building coral Acropora hyacinthus in Japan, where populations have shown recent northward expansion. I will investigate changes in genetic diversity and putative genes targeted by selection in these expanding coral populations to shed light on the evolutionary processes underlying successful coral expansion.
This summer I will conduct my field work in an Fe rich, shallow, temperate, estuary (Waquoit Bay, MA) to explore these questions further. I will collect sediment samples along a gradient of high to low concentrations of Fe. I will use these samples to (1) quantify seasonal rates of sediment Fe2+ oxidation, denitrification and DNRA, (2) determine how concentrations of Fe2+ and NO3- alter rates of denitrification and DNRA and (3) characterize the potentially active sediment microbial community. Research regarding the coupling of Fe and N cycling is critical to assessing coastal N budgets in similar coastal environments experiencing hypoxic/anoxic conditions. Furthermore, by understanding the factors that influence processes such as denitrification and DNRA, we can better predict the fate of nutrients and productivity in coastal sediments. Ultimately, my research will contribute to our understanding of coastal marine nutrient cycling while protecting our dynamic coasts.
Register for the event here!
We are looking for instructors for two courses to be taught in the 2019 Marine Semester.
Lecturer for Tropical Marine Fisheries
The Marine Program at Boston University invites applications for a part-time Lecturer beginning October 1, 2019 to teach a Tropical Marine Fisheries course. We seek a colleague with a strong commitment to undergraduate education and a track record of excellence in teaching. Responsibilities include revising the existing course to reflect current fisheries issues, correspondence with other Marine Semester instructors to help in planning travel logistics, and teaching a research-based course in Boston and Belize. See full details here
Lecturer for Marine Megafaunal Ecology
The Marine Program at Boston University invites applications for a part-time Lecturer beginning September 1, 2019 to teach a Marine Megafaunal Ecology course as part of the Marine Semester. The Marine Semester is an intensive research-based semester offered to Marine Science majors, minors, and graduate students. We seek a colleague with a strong commitment to undergraduate education and a track record of excellence in teaching. Responsibilities include correspondence with partners to plan course logistics and teaching a research-based course. See full details here
Hayley Goss and Jacob Jaskiel, both seniors majoring in Marine Science, made the discovery that microplastics have made their way to the very base of the food chain.
"Originally, Goss and Jaskiel were collecting seagrass blades with the intention that, back at Rotjan’s laboratory in Boston, they would count up the number and different kinds of epibionts—the “salad dressing”—on each blade.
“We brought back 16 different blades from different seagrass beds, and we thought all we were going to do was taxonomically characterize the organisms we found on them,” Jaskiel says. “In addition, the number of parrotfish bite marks on each blade would help us quantify which blades were most appetizing.”
But that’s not what happened. Instead, Goss had a sample under the microscope when she caught sight of something alien.
“I had the scope open and I saw a very thin, bright red fiber,” Goss says. “I said to Jacob, ‘Hey, take a look at this.’”
Jaskiel peered into the microscope and did a double take of his own. “Right away, I saw it.” It was undeniably a fiber. A microfiber, made of plastic, by the looks of it. But…how?"
Join us for touch tanks, lab tours, prizes, and more!
Currently looking for artists to participate in our marine-inspired popup gallery. All mediums welcome! Please contact Julia Hammer Mendez at email@example.com for more information.
Congratulations to Chris Reyes (BUMP '19) for winning the Lara Vincent Research Assistance Award!
Carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for keeping the Earth warm, have increased considerably since the 1700s and are negatively affecting organisms all over the world. These emissions are not only causing global ocean temperatures to rise, but also resulting in reductions in seawater pH, termed ocean acidification (OA). We conducted a controlled 16-day laboratory experiment to investigate the effect of pH stress on the common slipper shell snail Crepidula fornicata, an abundant and resilient species native to Eastern North America. We aimed to determine how the physiology and gene expression of these snails is affected by OA and how these responses differ between larvae and juveniles. To assess the effects of OA on the physiology of the snails, we measured shell and tissue growth rates and assessed ability of larva to transition to juvenile under three different pH treatments (7.5, 7.6, 8.0). I am currently analyzing gene expression results in order to profile genome-wide gene expression and correlate it with the physiological data across treatments and life stages. I hope to show how transcriptomic plasticity, the ability for genes to express differently as a function of the environment, can allow highly resilient organisms like C. fornicata to acclimate to drastically altered environmental conditions in the face of climate change.
Chris will use the award to offset publication costs for an upcoming submission to Frontiers in Marine Science.