Who I Am
I am a Ph.D. Graduate student at The University of Texas at Arlington. Before I went into science I practiced as a Chef for 11 years during summer months, starting at the age of 13, chopping potatoes and making $8/hour. Spending 11 years on your feet for 8-18 hours a day is one way to build a work ethic. As a scientist, I have grown to love to collaborate with others and share skills and passion for synergistic results. In the past, I have been just as happy to teach others that think a topic or skill is simply "cool" because I understand that as a young scientist we all need that mentorship from our peers, supervisors, and perspectives from outside our field of study.
The purpose of my research is to bridge the knowledge developed in a research laboratory to have a direct influence on active coral restoration. This gives me a peek interest to build our knowledge towards assisted evolution efforts. To do this, I investigate the genetic expression, nucleotide profiles, and differentiation between genotypes. Additionally, I investigate the microbial community abundance, diversity, and functional profile through 16s and metagenomics.
Immunity to Community: How coral's gene expression in response to White Plague Disease shapes the coral ecosystem
First year Ph.D.
This is why I joined the brilliant lab of Dr. Laura Mydlarz. After completing scores of RNA extractions we are analyzing the gene expression data of seven of the most common Carribean reef-building corals to better understand what allows some species to survive better than others. This will point to which gene pathways are driving the hardiness in some species which gives direction to dig deeper into the data. Plenty of exciting avenues are already being chalked up for year two of my Ph.D. I am very lucky to get to work with such a dataset, however, it does come with the price to pay in terms of troubleshooting! That's just grad school though.
How Pesticides Effect the Coral Microbiome
I am proud of this project because I was able to come up with the design, build it with my own hands and baby it seven days a week to make sure it was as on target as possible. This opportunity to work like that would not be possible without the mentorship of Dr. Erinn Muller at Mote Marine Laboratory and was a springboard for me to take on other projects including genotyping by microsatellites, various stress exposure studies, and learn molecular and statistical skills to see these projects into manuscripts and build myself as a scientist. That was a very productive and enjoyable internship made possible by working with people who offer an opportunity for each other and share in curiosity.
A Professional Biologist
I am fortunate to have excellent dive mentors in my life and have taken advantage of and listened to their experience to develop my own credentials. My most recent qualification is for advanced nitrox/intro to tech (clip below, I am in the blue/black shorty with the hoodie). My favorite type of dive used to be night dives for the alien world that night diving delivers. As I seek to further expand my technical diving qualifications, aspiring to be rebreather certified, I have been enjoying deeper wreck diving for its history, the challenge, and life experience. I am also fortunate to have taken a ten-month long AAUS course while an undergrad at Penn State with over 300 hours of training.