Student Vignette

Adrienne Hollister

Adrienne Hollister

About my research:

I am a first year Masters student in Kristen Buck’s lab, which studies the biogeochemistry of trace metals in the ocean. I recently started working on a project looking at the remineralization of iron after a phytoplankton bloom. Prior to USF, I received my BS in chemistry at PLU in Tacoma, WA, where I was a part of a polymer research group. After graduation, I took off five years where I worked in pharmacy and quality assurance.

Why USFCMS?

Attending USF was an unexpected path. As a west coaster, Florida was completely new to me. But the more I learned about USF CMS, the more it seemed like the right fit. I especially valued the interdisciplinary nature of the program, and when I visited, I knew I wanted to study chemical oceanography here. The research is exciting, and the community is supportive. And of course, the campus is the ideal location for marine research, with Tampa bay right in our backyard.

Amanda Paiz

Amanda Paiz

About my research:

My research involves looking at the upwelling flow from the Gulf of Mexico onto the West Florida Shelf and trying to figure out when it happens, why it happens, and where the water goes once it makes it onto the Shelf using a data-assimilated regional model data set covering 10 years.

Why USFCMS?

Conducting my research at USF-CMS in the beautiful St Petersburg area has been wonderful. The staff is great, and the professors really put in the time to make sure your research is worth-while and makes a difference in your field. There are opportunities to get ship time for your research, and lots of chances to do other types of field-work if you choose to do so. Access to state of the art facilities and computing power have been a great help in not only my research, but also in my growth and development as a physical oceanographer. The various opportunities you are able to take advantage of at a Tier 1 research school are amazing, and at USF-CMS you also get the extra bonus of a small-school feel so you don't get lost in the crowds like at many other institutions.

Christian Gfatter

Christian Gfatter

About my research:

I am interested in symbiotic relationships and the study of foraminifera. These protists are found in a wide range of marine habitats and are often studied to provide insight into evolutionary processes, environmental history, and paleoceanography. Some species of foraminifera have diapause-like responses to hostile conditions such as hypoxia and my research examines the survival limits of algal endosymbiont bearing foraminifera compared to those without algal symbionts. This research will generate valuable data that will help explain prior migration and predict future expansion into marginal environments. I am also interested in analyzing foraminiferal assemblages and developing innovative methods to improve identification, such as utilizing image recognition technology.

Why USFCMS?

I believe in the College of Marine Science's interdisciplinary approach to studies in marine science and it has a diverse group of scientists within the fields of Biological, Chemical, Geological, and Physical Oceanography. All of the professors are very approachable and provide their students the necessary tools to become successful. The college, while having the resources of the greater USF system, is located in an quiet setting within the beautiful City of St. Petersburg which has numerous marine related organizations. For entertainment and recreation, there is a wide range of activities.

Cristina Subt

Cristina Subt

About my research:

I use ramped pyrox radiocarbon chronology methods on marginal Antarctic marine sediments to determine changes in ice sheet retreat and advance over time. Understanding how ice sheets have interacted with climate changes in the past can help us understand how current and future climate changes might play a role in ice sheet behavior, but to do this, accurate chronology is key. Antarctic sediments are notoriously difficult to date due to their highly detrital nature, but by using ramped pyrox we are able to improve upon the available methods and provide more accurate chronologies.

Why USFCMS?

The USF College of Marine Science is an excellent program. There are scientists here who focus on a wide variety of research areas, and who are always happy to provide guidance and resources for their students. For those interested in paleoclimate research, the Paleoclimate Lab is a great place to get help, tools and even make friends! The College of Marine Science is full of fun and interesting scientists with all levels of experience and who make this a great place to study oceanography.

Devon Firesinger

Devon Firesinger

About my research:

I am a graduate student in Brad Rosenheim’s Geochemistry research lab. My study focuses on analyzing sediment cores utilizing a Bayesian accumulation model to improve radiocarbon age models and chronologies. I am currently picking mixed planktonic foraminifera assemblages from specific depth intervals throughout my core for 14C determinations. I will test the hypothesis that a higher density of dates carrying less individual precision will lead to a more comprehensive age model by contrasting results with age models produced through traditional radiocarbon dating. The core I am investigating will be approximately 2000-6000 y old, and contains paleo-environmental information about the influence of the growing human population on Mississippi River sediment transport dynamics, potentially helping to answer questions about the terrestrial-marine carbon cycle in Northeastern America.

Why USFCMS?

I received my Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Tampa in Marine Science and Chemistry just over the bridge from St. Petersburg. I chose to attend the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science due to the great collaboration with nearby institutions such as the USGS, FWRI, FIO, and NOAA. This area possesses a concentration of wise scientists and I believe it a hotspot in the investigation of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred half a decade ago. I was given the opportunity to become a teaching assistant and gained experience inside and out of the classroom preparing lectures and aiding in the construction of the Introduction to Oceanography online course. The city of St. Petersburg and the surrounding region provides many exciting activities when you find time outside the lab. I find it rewarding to spend a day relaxing on the beach, or going out on the boat to go wakeboarding or on a scuba diving adventure.

Erin M. Symonds

Erin M. Symonds

About my research:

I specialize in public health-related water microbiology as a PhD candidate in Dr. Mya Breitbart’s Genomics Laboratory. My research involves wastewater-related viruses, specifically the pepper mild mottle virus, and the use of these viruses to identify fecal pollution in the environment as well as to assess the pathogen removal efficiency of wastewater treatment systems. I am particularly interested in wastewater reuse issues and developing country contexts.

Why USFCMS?

As a USF-CMS graduate student, I have been afforded the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research related to public health-related water microbiology through collaborations with the USF RECLAIM network as well as with NOAA. Furthermore, I have greatly benefited from the USF Challenge Grant program (an internal research grant for interdisciplinary studies) in which I was given the opportunity to conduct research with graduate students from other departments. The execution of our study "A rapid assessment of microbial risk from consuming lettuce in the Cochabamba Valley of Bolivia" gave me an unforgettable educational and research experience."

Jeremy Browning

Jeremy Browning

About my research:

I am presently concerned with planktonic fish eggs. Where are certain species spawning? Why did they choose to spawn under the conditions at one location and time of day/year over another? These pursuits can be used to inform fisheries management and improve sustainability.

Why USFCMS?

The USF College of Marine Science charmed me with a sense of community. I have been made to feel very welcome and have gained outstanding friends here. I’ve had a curiosity for the sea since I was a child. Consequently, the opportunity to step out of freshwater ecology and into the interdisciplinary fields of oceanography was one I could not pass up.

Jonathan Sharp

Jonathan Sharp

About my research:

I am studying marine chemistry in Dr. Robert Byrne’s CO2 Sensors Lab. My research mainly focuses on the dynamics of the carbon dioxide system in seawater. I am interested in refining the methodology used for direct spectrophotometric measurement of carbonate ion concentration. This includes algorithm development and determination of temperature effects. As human carbon emissions continue to lower both the pH and the carbonate concentration of our oceans, this work will enhance our ability to quickly and accurately assess the health of marine ecosystems.

I’m also involved with instrument development; creating and testing novel ways to measure carbon dioxide system parameters in seawater. I am currently working on a compact instrument that will simultaneously measure pH, dissolved inorganic carbon, and total alkalinity with minimal operator input.

I enjoy research cruises as well. I recently participated in the 2016 West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise, measuring pH and carbonate concentration during a month-long journey up the west coast of North America. I am looking forward to even more time at sea in the future.

Why USFCMS?

The College of Marine Science is a fantastic community of intelligent, friendly, and ambitious people. The relationship between students, professors, and administrators is impressive and has really enriched my graduate school experience thus far. On top of all that, the St. Petersburg area “suffers” from an infestation of marine scientists. This is great when it comes to both formal research collaboration and informal sharing of ideas.

The research that comes out of CMS labs is first-rate, and the community conducting that research is so much fun to be a part of. I consider myself very fortunate to be a student at one of the foremost marine science research institutions in the country.

Julie Vecchio

Julie Vecchio

About my research:

I use natural tags to study the movements and food habits of economically important reef fish species throughout the Gulf of Mexico. I am using the stable isotope signature of various fish tissues, including eye lenses, muscle, and liver to investigate movement and diet patterns of groupers, snappers, and other reef-associated fishes at varying timescales. Comparing the stable isotope signature of the muscle and liver from a single individual shows the short-term movement (1-3 months) of that individual. Studying the stable isotope signature of the eye lenses of individual fish gives a pattern of trophic level and movement for that individual over the entire lifespan of the fish. I am combining these techniques to understand the short-term and long-term movements and food habits of several important reef fish species on the West Florida Shelf and across the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Why USFCMS?

The USF College of Marine Science is an excellent inter-disciplinary oceanography program. In addition, there are numerous state and federal-level resources available in the immediate vicinity, especially for the MRA program. As an MRA student, I can get samples or advice from FWRI, NOAA, and USGS without even leaving downtown St. Petersburg. It's an extremely integrated community.

Kara Wall

Kara Wall

About my research:

My research aims to identify patterns in the recruitment and succession of the epibenthos in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (eGOM). Specifically I am studying how environmental cues that signal marine larvae and the predation of juveniles may influence community composition across season and habitat type. By determining the relative influence of these processes, my research will increase our understanding of how different habitats function in eGOM ecosystems.

Why USFCMS?

I decided to pursue my graduate career within USF’s CMS because of the interdisciplinary approach that the program emphasizes. The wide range of research topics covered by the faculty and students provide exposure to concepts and techniques that I may not have been exposed to at in a purely biological program. Additionally, the location offers excellent opportunities to collaborate with local state and federal agencies, as well as close proximity to study the eGOM. As a young scientist the amount of information left to discover in this region is very exciting and inspiring.

Kate Colna

Kate Colna

About my research:

My research focuses on understanding the factors that affect the variability of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ is a zonal (East-West) band of convection over the tropics that impacts climate around the world. The ITCZ is generally in the Northern Hemisphere, but varies between 5 degrees south and 20 degrees north. I use cloud height, precipitation, and wind data obtained from satellites to detect the position of the ITCZ, since it does not maintain one fixed position. Tracking the ITCZ has allowed me to create a practical index of the monthly latitudinal position of the ITCZ for approximately 20 years. I analyze the ITCZ based on the three parameters to detect long term and seasonal changes in the position of the ITCZ. Additionally, in the months of February to May there are two distinct bands of convection on both sides of the equator, this is known as the double ITCZ. My research includes detecting the double ITCZ and determining if it has seasonal and long term changes as well. Studying the ITCZ is important because shifts in the ITCZ lead to shifts in local weather, ecosystems, and biogeochemistry, and would explain many of the long term as well as the seasonal changes in tropics.

Why USFCMS?

When choosing a school to work on my master’s degree and research I wanted a school that had the benefits a big university without the overwhelming atmosphere of a big school. USF-CMS has provided me with the big school experience in a smaller setting. The friendly and relaxed atmosphere that I experienced during my visit to USF-CMS and the staff answering all of my questions made my decision that much easier. Working on my research at USF-CMS, has given me several opportunities, like helping with the preparation and contact list for teachers from the St. Petersburg Science Festival. I also was awarded a fellowship to help pay for my tuition, which was not available to me at smaller institutions. The resources that USF-CMS has and the contacts that I have made already in my first year here really have enhanced my research experience. I was able to network with someone from NOAA in Miami, and now he is part of my master’s committee. The city of St. Petersburg is close to so many attractions like beaches, amusement parks, airports, and festivals that when you aren’t working or studying there is always something to do. USF-CMS has so much to offer graduate students due to their association with a big school, but its location at the USF St. Petersburg campus and their staff, make USF-CMS feel like a small school and provide a friendly atmosphere for learning, friendships, networking, and research.

Kate Dubickas

Kate Dubickas

About my research:

A project in the Daly Zooplankton Ecology Lab focuses on identifying changes to zooplankton ecology relative to the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. I will be comparing historic pre-spill samples collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to post-spill samples collected by researchers here at USF. My research will establish a baseline of the natural spatial, seasonal, and interannual variation in zooplankton community structure prior to the DWH oil spill and subsequently compare it with post DWH zooplankton data. To process samples, our lab will be using a revolutionary piece of equipment in the zooplankton research field: Hydroptic Zooscan digital imaging system. The Zooscan overcomes traditionally time-consuming and difficult taxonomic techniques that have previously limited large-scale zooplankton analyses. I hypothesize that the DWH oil spill resulted in a significant shift in zooplankton abundance, distribution, and composition in the northeast Gulf of Mexico.

My results will provide important information on the environmental ramifications of oil spills, which can be used by state and federal agencies and emergency responders to help mitigate future events. Because of modern society’s continuous extraction, consumption, and reliance on oil, future oil spills are not only possible, but very likely to occur and possibly at a larger scale. Thus, it is crucial to determine the ecological consequences of oil spills for advising limits of future deep-water oil drilling development, guiding future cleanup efforts, and protecting coastal commerce.

Why USFCMS?

Oil spills, including the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill, have a long-standing history of devastating ecosystems. As a Gulf Coast native, I was particularly affected by this disaster and it further motivated me to pursue graduate studies and a career that would have a positive impact on people and wildlife. The University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science (CMS) sits on the shores of Tampa Bay in close proximity to the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion. Due to field stations’ accessibility, university investigators have been at the forefront of spill-related research. The collaborative nature of CMS and the surrounding institutes (USGS, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife, Florida Institute of Oceanography) made it the ideal academic institute to accomplish my research and career goals. Further, CMS doesn’t have any undergraduate courses, so the faculty here is predominantly research focused, something I enjoy. But of course, you can always walk the 100 yards next door to USF St. Petersburg if you’re looking for a library with waterfront views or TA opportunities.

As an added bonus to attending an exceptional research institute, St. Petersburg has proven to be an ideal location to live. Bike and dog friendly downtown St. Pete has a thriving waterfront, restaurant, and arts community, with a slew of boating types, trivia nights, and galleries to choose from. Nearly every weekend, there is an affordable, and more often than not, free activity to spend my time away from zooplankton.

Kelly Vasbinder

Kelly Vasbinder

About my research:

I work in the Fisheries and Ecosystem Ecology Lab, and my advisor is Dr. Cameron Ainsworth. The focus of our lab is ecosystem modeling, and I will be working in an Atlantis model for the Gulf of Mexico. My research investigates how assumptions on larval transport affect spatial stock assessment and ecosystem models. I’m working on mapping the dispersal of the larvae of commercial and recreational fish species in the Gulf of Mexico in order to investigate placement sites for Marine Protected Areas. This research can help to determine where and how to best protect their young. It is immediately relevant to our local ecosystem, and will provide information that can help us to better understand the movements of larvae. I’m currently working on using statistical models to determine the probability of finding fish larvae of different species at different depths, which will allow me to build and expand on previous work on larval trajectories by adding larval depth as a consideration.

Why USFCMS?

The research atmosphere here at USF College of Marine Science is exceptionally cooperative. I’m able to ask people from many different scientific backgrounds for input or advice on my project, and have the opportunity to collaborate with people outside of my field. USF provides a unique opportunity for me, a student in the Marine Resource Assessment program, to work with both biological and physical oceanographers to build the best model possible. USF is also situated near multiple government agencies and marine science institutes, which gives students the opportunity to collaborate with scientists at these agencies and to attend workshops and events there. For me, this means that I’ve been able to attend a stock assessment workshop nearby and learn skills that I will continue using into my career. Finally, I chose USF because I have a personal connection here. When I was 14, I attended USF’s Oceanography Camp for Girls, which gives girls the chance to experience what it’s like to be a marine scientist in many different disciplines by working with USF Graduate students in the lab and in the field, including on a one day research cruise on a USF vessel! I decided that summer that I wanted to be in marine science, and it’s been amazing to see that dream come full circle and as I came back to work and study here at USF CMS as a PhD student.

Kristina Deak

Kristina Deak

About my research:

My research examines how exposure to oil and dispersants impacts the immune system of commercially-relevant, non-model fishes in the Gulf of Mexico. The study required the isolation and characterization of a suite of cytokines, important immune signaling proteins, from red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) and golden tilefish (Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps). By examining cytokine levels after exposure to toxicants, in conjunction with analysis of traditional biomarkers for oil exposure and immune status, a more accurate assessment of an organism's health may be possible. All targets will be observed in carefully controlled cell culture dosing experiments, in live fish exposed to oil and dispersants in the laboratory, and in field-caught samples from throughout the Gulf of Mexico, including from the regions of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and the 1979 IXTOX I disaster. Ultimately, the study will quantify the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the immune system of Gulf fishes and will determine if cytokines may be a valuable biomarker for toxicity and health in non-model organisms.

Why USFCMS?

Working with my advisor at USF-CMS has provided me with an incredible amount of time at sea, sometimes more than five weeks per year. It is immensely rewarding to spend so much time away from land, collecting samples and observing the natural habitat and biota of the Gulf. The program was also extremely flexible during my Master's degree, as it allowed me to keep my Staff Chemist position at Mote Marine Laboratory while I completed my thesis. This flexibility continues, as I will conduct the molecular and genetic analysis of field-caught samples for my Doctorate at the Children's Research Institute in St Petersburg. The close proximity of USF-CMS to other renowned scientific institutes and strong working relationship with them has opened countless doors for collaboration and networking opportunities.

Kristine Clark

Kris Clark

About my research:

Kris Clark is a graduate student at USF's College of Marine Science and DEEPEND research assistant in Dr. Heather Judkins' lab. She plans to obtain her Master's Degree in Biological Oceanography. Her master's thesis is focused on pelagic marine heteropoda vertical distribution and eye diameter size correlations in the water column and examining population genetics. As a research assistant to Dr. Heather Judkins at USFSP, her role focuses on the genomic and morphological identification of various cephalopoda. Kris is a life long ocean enthusiast which compliments her work with DEEPEND and her educational pursuits.

Why USFCMS?

USF-CMS was enabled me the opportunity to couple biological science and microbiology to further my research as a graduate student. The faculty advisors were a major attraction for me to this program for the mentorship I greatly wished to work under. The campus in St. Petersburg is beautifully situated right on the bay. USF-CMS gives me confidence in knowing that I will have the education, the support and the facilities to succeed with my research goals.

Marcy L. Cockrell

Marcy L. Cockrell

About my research:

My research is focused on fisheries management and conservation. I’m specifically interested in the biology, ecology, and policy related to sustainable marine fisheries. My dissertation work at USF involves examining the impacts of four existing closed areas on the West Florida Shelf – how the management strategies used in these areas has affected both the fish populations they are meant to protect and the fishermen that rely on the resources within them. I will be carrying out projects to better understand the source/sink dynamics and connectivity of fish populations, the ecology of multi-species fisheries, and changes in fishing patterns in response to various management strategies. Ultimately, I will aim to evaluate the benefits and efficacy of existing West Florida Shelf closed areas. My research will contribute to the larger body of work that seeks to understand how marine protected areas can be used as an effective fisheries management tool.

Why USFCMS?

The College of Marine Science has Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in its backyard, both of which are excellent natural laboratories for marine science research. CMS is also located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, and has strong partnerships with scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service, US Geological Survey, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Maria Vega-Rodriguez

Maria Vega-Rodriguez

Maria Vega-Rodriguez
Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography
Advisor: Dr. Frank Muller-Karger
Lab Phone: 727.553.1186
Email: mariavegarod@mail.usf.edu
imars.usf.edu/
http://www.mariavega.info/

About my research:

 

Coral reefs are unique and complex marine ecosystems that have experienced drastic declines worldwide especially in the last 30 years. Many environmental parameters have been linked to this decline, being extreme variability in water quality (e.g. water temperatures) one of the most important contributors. As a PhD candidate, I am currently working on a program at the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS) that intends to enhance the NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch (CRW) decision support system. The NOAA CRW program produces sea surface temperature (SST) climatologies and temperature anomaly products with operational, near-real-time AVHRR data at 50 km spatial resolutions. This program helps assess and predict environmental stress in coral reef ecosystems by parameters measurable at synoptic scales from satellites. We are evaluating MODIS and AVHRR (4 and 1 km) satellite imagery with the intention to enhance current CRW products. I’m particularly interested in evaluating the influence of water quality variability on the stony coral diversity, specifically in the Florida Keys. I augment my research with field and laboratory based studies.

 

Research interests:Remote sensing, bio-optical oceanography, ecology of tropical marine ecosystems (e.g. corals & mangroves), climate change

 

Why USFCMS?

 

Our College is suited with really high-profile well-known scientists in all fields of Biological, Chemical, Physical and Geological Oceanography. In addition to this, we are centered in the middle of a unique network of marine scientists not only from academia but from governmental agencies as well. Our College is located just a few feet’s away from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Geological Survey. The headquarters’ of the Florida’s Institute of Oceanography are within our College. Therefore, the collaborations between the CMS and these agencies are not only feasible but also encouraged thus providing plenty opportunities for research. Graduate students at CMS benefit greatly from this.

Matthew Birk

Matthew Birk

About my research:

My primary research interests are in teuthology: the scientific study of cephalopods. I apply an integrative approach to my research that incorporates biochemistry, physiology, behavior, and ecology to gain a holistic understanding of these animals and their role in marine ecosystems. For my dissertation research, I am studying the effects of ocean acidification on squid physiology. Specifically, I am examining the effects of acidification on hypoxia (low oxygen) tolerance, maximum swimming speed, and chromatophore expression (color change). I am also examining how these effects may change their biogeography and ecology as climate change progresses.

Why USFCMS?

The USF College of Marine Science is a highly active and productive research institution. As a student and researcher here, I have the opportunity to collaborate with top minds in oceanography to gain a holistic understanding of the oceans and how cephalopods fulfill their roles within them. The small, tight-knit community here provides great interactions both intellectually and personally.

Meaghan Faletti

Meaghan Faletti

About my research:

For my Master’s thesis, I am conducting research on fish life history and movement using stable isotopes. Specifically, I am investigating the ontogenetic migration patterns of Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus), an important recreational and commercial fish species in the Gulf of Mexico. My goals are to quantify their movement patterns and identify important juvenile habitats, or nurseries, that contribute to the adult Gulf of Mexico Hogfish population. My future goals include conducting research on recreationally and commercially important species to assist in fisheries management. I also have a strong passion for outreach, and hope to facilitate communication between the fishing and diving communities with fishery managers to determine knowledge gaps and how to fill them. Ultimately, she’d like to explore how fish population dynamics may affect broad-scale marine ecology and promote the development of ecosystem-based management approaches.

Why USFCMS?

I chose to pursue my Master’s Degree at the USF College of Marine Science due to its accessibility to numerous resources to help with marine research. Within the Fish Ecology lab especially, there is often a large field component to many of our projects. Having the opportunity to dive into the field and get up-close and personal with the marine systems I’m learning about in my classes has been greatly beneficial in developing my own research questions. USFCMS offers access to many resources, both in the lab and in the field, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other local marine research agencies.

Michelle Guitard

Michelle Guitard

About my research:

My research focuses on reconstructing the history of the Lambert Glacier-Amery Ice Shelf system (LG-AIS), which terminates in Prydz Bay, East Antarctica. To resolve past LG-AIS evolution, I utilize marine sediment cores collected on the Antarctic continental margin on U.S. Antarctic Program cruise NBP01-01. Core lithology and stratigraphy suggests that the LG-AIS system repeatedly retreated and advanced through the late Quaternary (125-0 ka). To date sediments and provide ages of LG-AIS retreat/advance, I use radiocarbon (14C). To investigate how regional environmental conditions, such as ice shelf extent, sea surface temperature, and upwelling, changed through the late Quaternary, I apply various inorganic and organic geochemical tools, including beryllium-10 (10Be), and redox metals to Prydz Bay sediment samples. Apart from my project, my other interests include geochronology, paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, and high-latitude atmosphere-ice-land dynamics.

Why USFCMS?

Coming to the College of Marine Science for my Master’s and Ph.D. has opened up many opportunities for me as a student. I have been able to participate in 2 research cruises to the Antarctic, travel to Europe, Asia, and South America, and collaborate with international scientists on my project. As a result of the college’s emphasis on interdisciplinary research, I have been able to learn about many aspects of oceanography outside my discipline. The student community at CMS is very supportive, and students often work together on class assignments, grant applications, and presentations. The sense of community fosters great collaboration as well as friendship, and students spend much of their free time outside the college with each other.

Susan Snyder

Susan Snyder

About my research:

My research with Dr. Steve Murawski aims to understand exposure and accumulation of toxic oil-related compounds in fish following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. We focus on the bottom-dwelling and commercially important species, such as red snapper and golden tilefish. We quantify the toxic components of oil, known as the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), in different fish samples including bile (to tell us about short-term exposure), and muscle and liver (to tell us about long-term accumulation). We relate these chemical body burdens to sublethal effects in the fish, including liver cancer, immunosuppression and reduced growth. Our goal is to understand the extent of exposure to oil following the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and any health effects caused by exposure. We have extended our studies to the southern Gulf of Mexico where a similar oil-well blowout occurred offshore of Mexico in 1979. Our goal is to generate a gulf-wide baseline for contaminants and fish disease.

Why USFCMS?

My research is part of the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE) group, centered here at the College of Marine Science lead by PI Dr. Steve Murawski. I am very fortunate to be a part of C-IMAGE research because it links my research with hundreds of other scientists locally and globally studying the Deepwater Horizon blowout and the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these scientists are here at the College of Marine Science, including faculty, scientific researchers and graduate students spanning fields of Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Physics, allowing our research to be very interdisciplinary. I chose to come to the College of Marine Science because I was excited about the research going on through C-IMAGE, specifically with Dr. Steve Murawski.