Caroline Fleming, a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the Rotjan Lab, received the 2024 McLeod Annual Award. She is an eco-physiologist who studies the energetic trade-offs marine organisms make under local and global change.

Her research focuses on the temperate coral, Astrangia poculata, which lives in highly-urbanized, rapidly changing coastal ecosystems up and down the east coast of the United States where it is exposed to nutrient pollution, rising sea surface temperatures, and other stressors. In contrast to tropical corals that require their endosymbiotic algae to survive, Astrangia lives in a facultative symbiosis: existing with and relatively without its symbiont at the same environmental conditions.

This system provides an interesting opportunity to probe the relative contributions of auto and heterotrophy to its energetic budget without stressing the coral into a “bleached” state, and understand the cost and benefits of coral-algal symbioses.

This science will provide critical insight into the mechanisms of coral resilience, which is increasingly important in an era of global change. Caroline uses empirical, theoretical, and quantitative approaches to investigate coral energetic dynamics, and is profoundly grateful to have McLeod support for this work.

The Warren-McLeod Graduate Fellowship in Marine Science was established by Patricia Warren (the granddaughter of BU’s 1st President, William Fairfield Warren) in 1990 to support graduate students in the BU Marine Program (BUMP). Guy McLeod was Patricia’s brother-in-law and the long-time director of research at the New England Aquarium. He was a marine biologist, whose scholarship focused on the role of iron, vanadium, and other metal ions on the physiological ecology of marine animals. 

Congratulations, Caroline!