B.S. University of Michigan, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
I first became interested in marine science when I was 9 years old, living in Washington State. My third grade class went on a field trip to Point Defiance Park and we hiked the natural trails down to Owen Beach, where we explored the shoreline and tide pools. The vastness of Puget Sound and the mystery of the creatures just out of reach beneath the surface captivated me, and that experience has shaped my life and my future goals. Intent on becoming a marine biologist, I attended the University of Michigan, where I earned my B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and I also completed an honors thesis on white shark behavior around a cage diving vessel in South Africa.
My current research interests involve understanding the role of ecology in conservation and management issues. I am particularly interested in trophic dynamics and predator-prey interactions. My thesis research at VIMS focuses on predation of juvenile blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, in Chesapeake Bay seagrass habitats. This project aims to identify major predators of juveniles in seagrass beds, and to evaluate their influence on juvenile mortality and blue crab abundance in the Bay. The blue crab is an ecologically and economically valuable species. As such, various management agencies have placed a high priority on understanding the ecological processes that influence blue crab recruitment and population dynamics in Chesapeake Bay. This project will contribute to an improved understanding of food web dynamics in the Bay’s seagrass habitats, and will assist in the development of ecosystem-based models of blue crab population dynamics, a useful tool for fisheries managers.
I am excited to be a part of the Short Trust GK-12 Fellowship Program at Peasley Middle School in Fall 2015. The experience provides an opportunity to improve my science communication skills, while sharing my passion for the ocean and marine life. I will strive to provide students with engaging experiences that might ignite their passion for science, just as my elementary school field trip inspired me. My main goals as a GK-12 Fellow are to inspire a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn, and to show students what real science is all about. But, I also hope to be an accessible resource for students as a mentor they can talk to about college options and careers in science.