- Area of Study Marine Biology
Since childhood, I have always had a natural curiosity about science and nature, particularly the ocean. As an undergraduate biology major at Franklin and Marshall College, I worked with Dr. Peter Fields on projects investigating the ability of sub-tidal animals to deal with environmental stressors on multiple biological levels. For my senior thesis, I characterized the effects of acute heat stress on marine and estuarine mussels using shotgun proteomics and mass spectrometry. While in college, I also had the opportunity to study abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands with the School for Field Studies. There I investigated the efficacy of one of the local marine parks—the Admiral Cockburn Land and Sea National Park in South Caicos—and became particularly interested in coral conservation. It was after these two important undergraduate experiences that I realized I had an affinity towards scientific research and an earnest interest in coral health and how keystone species like corals are impacted by environmental stress.
My research at Boston University revolves around coral health, recovery, and resilience. Here at BU, I work in the labs of Dr. John Finnerty and Dr. Les Kaufman, as well as with Dr. Randi Rotjan at the New England Aquarium. 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.
Working at Boston University has offered me a suite of different and interesting teaching opportunities in the field of marine biology, from marine genomics to urban ecology to field courses in Belize focusing on the ecology of corals and other tropical invertebrates. I’ve also been able to get involved in different outreach programs, such as BU Summer Pathways Program, which introduces high school girls to different careers in science.