Mentor: Dr. Craig Osenberg
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I grew up spending my summers in the water, looking at coral reefs. I was and always will be fascinated by the ecosystem and its diverse communities. I remained curious about the species there, and while snorkeling the same places annually I witnessed their decline. As I learned more and more about reef ecosystems and the threats and damages they endure, I realized I want to discover things about them, especially in an effort to preserve them. A field course followed by an internship cemented that notion and convinced me that I want to make a career out of scientific research."
- Indirect Interactions
- Marine Ecology
- Community Ecology
Mildred J. Roubideau Memorial Scholarship
Florida Bright Futures Scholarship
Best Poster UF Marine Biology Symposium 2013
- Research Assistant - Osenberg Lab
- Research Assistant - Silliman Lab
Hobbies and Interests
- Martial Arts
- Scuba Diving
Exploring the Effects of Vermetid Gastropods on Coral Reef Topography
Coral reefs in French Polynesia have experienced outbreaks of sessile vermetid gastropods, which forage using widely-cast mucus nets that cover the surface of surrounding corals. Vermetids can reduce skeletal growth of juvenile corals and increase mortality. Surveys indicate that vermetids may affect coral morphology, with massive (boulder-like) corals exhibiting flatter morphologies and branching corals exhibiting growth deformations when exposed to vermetids. This study will investigate the mechanisms underlying the effects of vermetids on coral morphology. Coral polyp size structure can be assessed to measure spatially explicit budding and calcification rates. Increased polyp budding can increase morphological complexity, which may explain morphological effects of vermetids on corals. I will use photographic analyses to test the hypothesis that the presence of vermetids alters polyp size structure, leading to negative effects on coral structural complexity. In the summer of 2012, PhD student Lianne Jacobson selected and photographed 10 control reefs (with vermetids present) and 10 reefs with vermetids removed. To quantify budding rates and tissue growth, a second round of photographs will be taken at identical locations on each reef during the summer of 2013. Polyp size structure will be estimated by analyzing initial and final photos in ImageJ and MatLab. Results could clarify the effects of vermetid gastropods on reef growth and topographical variation.