Research Experience--Teaching Philosophy
As a physiological ecologist, I am fundamentally interested in the biological responses of organisms to environmental change. I am particularly interested in symbioses and partner contributions to nutrient fluxes and nutrition. Over the last decade I have studied corals with their symbiont alga (Family: Symbiodiniaceae).
As a post-doctoral researcher I have pivoted to a study of terrestrial plants, with an eye toward functional diversity of microbiome communities and environmental influences.
My research utilizes a combination of field ecology and laboratory experimentation to test hypotheses on the impacts of abiotic factors on holobionts (host, symbionts, assocaited microbes) on land and in the ocean. In my work I use physiological, genetic, and biogeochemical techniques including stable isotope analyses. My Ph.D. research focused on thermal stress and post-stress recovery, ocean acidification, nutritional plasticity, symbiont community composition, and biomass energetics in reef corals. In this work, I have worked in collaboration with academic institutions and government agencies at the state and federal level.
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.