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 research has examined the effects of elevated temperature and ocean acidification on the metabolism, calcification, photosynthetic performance, and bleaching of reef corals across the Pacific (Mo‘orea French Polynesia, Nanwan Bay Taiwan, and Hawai‘i). My Ph.D. research at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa focused 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 Symbiodiniaceae. This research helped to better understand the dynamics of nutrition with the coral-algal system and provided insight into the effects of environmental change on coral performance.
Since 2013, I have served as an Adjunct Professor at Santa Monica College in California, teaching >20 terms of non-majors marine biology (online). As a graduate teaching assistant (2013-2019) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa I was an affiliate instructor with the UH Center for Teaching Excellence and taught introductory biology and oceanography laboratories; served as a teaching assistant in a capstone undergraduate seminar and a grad student early-career development course; and was the lead teaching assistant for Introduction to Oceanography Science of the Sea. In addition, I have led seminars for student and faculty on reproducible science in R and GitHub to support my department and peer education.
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.