Graduate Research

Current Graduate Student Research

Chloe Anderson (Murray)

My research focuses on interpreting paleoceanographic and paleoclimatologic signatures recorded in marine sediment. Using analytical geochemistry and multivariate statistics, I study changes in sediment composition and supply driven by variability of the East Asian Monsoon over orbital and millennial timescales. My other research interests include links between geochemical cycling, the subseafloor biosphere, and the deep carbon cycle.

Tina Barbasch (Buston)

My research uses theoretical and empirical approaches to explore sexual conflict and sociality using the clownfish (Amphiprion percula) as a model system.

Rebecca Branconi (Buston)

Originally from Italy, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Master’s degree in Animal Behavior from Universita degli Studi di Firenze, in Italy. My research, which is co-advised by Dr. Marian Wong in Australia, focuses on the damselfish Dascyllus aruanus as a model system to investigate the effect of social and ecological context on the formation and organization of social networks.

Elizabeth Burmester (Finnerty)

My research revolves around coral health, recovery, and resilience, and is jointly advised by Dr. Finnerty, Dr. Kaufman, and Dr. Rotjan. My dissertation focuses on wound healing (and the ability of corals to heal from wounds as a model for recovery) in a species of temperate coral found in New England. Unlike most tropical corals, Astrangia poculata has a facultative relationship with its key algal symbiont (Symbiodinium sp.—which provide up to 95% of the energy of obligate tropical corals) and can be found in healthy, stable conditions both symbiotically and asymbiotically. Working with this species offers us the unique opportunity to investigate recovery in corals with and without Symbiodinium. This task is impossible with most tropical corals because of the environmental and internal stresses that, respectively, cause and result from a breakdown in the coral-algal symbiosis.

Emily Chua (Fulweiler)

For my dissertation, I am working on an NSF funded project to develop a novel underwater mass spectrometer for measuring biogenic gases in permeable sediments.  This project is in collaboration with SRI International (St. Petersburg, FL) and Skidaway Institute of  Oceanography (Savannah, GA). I came to BU under a Fulbright Canada Student Award. In my first year at BU, I received a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Scholarship.

Hollie Emery (Fulweiler)

I am investigating how human impacts (e.g. tidal restriction and restoration, invasive species, and precipitation change) alter greenhouse gas fluxes in salt marshes. I am also working in Puerto Rico with Brita Jessen (a Ph.D. student at GSO/URI) on her mangrove nitrogen fertilization experiment. I have received the National Park Service George M. Wright Climate Change Fellowship, the Joshua A. Nickerson Conservation Fellowship, and the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant to study the effects of precipitation intensification on salt marsh carbon sequestration and nitrogen removal processes

Sarah Foster (Fuweiler)

In my master’s research at BU, I investigated the spatial and historic variability of sediment nutrient cycling and denitrification in Waquoit Bay, MA. My fundamental scientific interest is the exploration of coastal ecosystem response to anthropogenic changes (such as nutrient pollution and climate change) across a variety of geographic and temporal scales. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. and my research is focused on the impacts of low oxygen on the microbial flux of nitrous oxide and methane, supported by the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate fellowship. For the past three years I have led a workshop called “Microbes and Mud” for middle school girls as part of the Women in Science summer program at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

William Kearney (Fagherazzi)

I study how fundamental physical processes like the flow of water and the transport of sediments and nutrients lead to large-scale patterns in wetlands. I particularly like to use tools from statistics, signal processing, and dynamical systems theory to interpret data from environmental sensors in terms of the structure and functioning of wetlands.

Kathryn Lesneski (Kaufman)

My work focuses on understanding colony-level resilience in the endangered staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis). I study the variation in physical and transcriptomic responses to heat stress (which can lead to bleaching) and wound healing between fore- and backreef corals in Belize, and among genets of nursery-grown coral from Florida. My work fits within the greater context of applications for active reef restoration projects in the face of global climate change. I work with two non-profits—the Coral Restoration Foundation in Florida, and Fragments of Hope in Belize—as well as the Belize Fisheries Department. My side projects include researching the clustering behavior of yellow tube sponge (Aplysina fistuarlis) on multiple Belizean reefs and the spatial distribution of finger coral (Porites) in a Belizean mangrove system.

Timothy Maguire (Fulweiler)

I investigate anthropogenic impacts to the biogeochemistry of coastal systems with an emphasis on Si cycle.

John Majoris (Atema/Buston)

I have recently developed a rearing protocol for two species of neon gobies, Elacatinus lori and Elacatinus colini, and I am now conducting lab and field based experiments to determine their orientation and navigation abilities throughout development.  My research interests include animal behavior, sensory ecology and phenotypic plasticity.

Linda Nguyen (Finnerty)

I am interested in understanding how corals and sea anemones respond to environmental stressors in situ and in vitro using organismal and molecular techniques, RNA sequencing, and differential expression analysis. To study how cnidarians mitigate cellular stresses, I am reconstructing pertinent signal transduction pathways by employing a bioinformatic approach.

Nicholas Ray (Fulweiler)

My research focuses on oyster mediation of sediment biogeochemical processes, and the impacts these changes will have on coastal ecosystems.

Emma Reed (Thompson)

My research focuses on corals across the Pacific, from the Marshall Islands to the Great Barrier Reef.  Corals grow annual bands, like tree rings, that are pages of a history book.  That book tells us about ocean temperature, water quality, and coral health. I’m working on a method to answer how coral health changed in response past extremes in climate.  Using a combination of living and fossil corals, we can reconstruct past climates over centuries – longer than our temperature records.