Research Experience--Teaching Philosophy
As a coral biologist I am fundamentally interested in the physiological ecology of scleractinian reef corals and how changing environmental conditions affect coral performance and the relationship of corals with their symbiont alga (Symbiodinium spp.).
My research utilizes a combination of field ecology and laboratory experimentation to test hypotheses on the impacts of abiotic factors on reef corals using physiological, genetic, and biogeochemical techniques. I have research experience in thermal stress and post-stress recovery, ocean acidification, nutritional plasticity, symbiont community composition, and biomass energetics, and I have worked in collaboration with academic institutions, as well as state and federal agencies.
My previous master's research examined the effects of elevated temperature and ocean acidification on the metabolism, calcification, photosynthetic performance, and bleaching of reef corals from Mo‘orea, French Polynesia and Nanwan Bay, Taiwan. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, my research now focuses on the autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition of reef corals and how coral nutrition is affected by stress and the genetic identity of it's resident Symbiodinium. This research offers an opportunity to better understand the dynamics of nutrition with the coral-algal system and has the potential to offer insight into the effects of environmental change on coral performance.
Supplemental to my goals as a research biologist, I am a consummate educator. I worked as a tutor, a science laboratory instructor in the Department of Biology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. I also serve as an adjunct professor in Life Sciences at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California, where I teach an online course in Marine Biology.
Communicating science can be difficult. I have sought to reach students and communites "beyond the microscope" by using engaging, interactive learning tools including photography, videos, and photogrammetry to bring science to life. In collaboration with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Laboratories I have worked on adapting cutting-edge interactive learning tools that can be applied in community education and outreach activities and in classrooms ranging from primary school through the university level. I serve as a mentor for middle school science projects as several O'ahu based schools; I give educational, in-classroom and skype lectures to schools in Hawai'i, Texas, California, and Georgia; and I serve as a science expert for The Honolulu Museum of Art School in a program integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) into elementary school curriculum.