Nicola Kriefall of the Davies Lab is the recipient of the 2022 Belamarich Dissertation Writing Award. This award complements the Belamarich Award, and is given to support an outstanding PhD student through the dissertation writing stage.

Nicola is interested in understanding how reef environments affect corals and their symbioses with microscopic organisms. Conditions on the reef change depending on the scale that you examine – sites just a few meters apart can have vastly different temperatures and salinity changes day to day. The first and second chapter of her dissertation compare the algal and bacterial communities hosted by corals across environments located closer to shore (typically more variable in terms of conditions like temperature) and further from shore (typically more stable) in French Polynesia and in Florida (USA). Her third chapter is a tank experiment that isolates daily thermal variability from other factors that differ across reef environments and asks how this variation structures coral microorganismal communities. By asking these types of questions, she aims to better understand whether microbes can play an important role in coral acclimatization to environmental shifts under climate change.

Congratulations, Nicola!