My first research experience was working for Dr. Kenia Whitehead in the UW Oceanography department, studying Mycosporine-like Amino Acids (MAA). I remember seeing pictures of Kenia standing on the ice in Antartica, thinking to myself, "Someday, I'm gonna do research on the Ice." For the next three years I took every opportunity I could to do independent research in the UW School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. This work mostly took me to different lakes around Washington and British Columbia, studying aquatic ecosystems and coupling of terrestrial-aquatic ecosystems with Dr. Tessa Francis. I took a short break from the cold Northwest rain to study reef fish populations in the warm tropical rain of Dominica. After I graduated from UW and years of volunteering, I had the opportunity to go to Antarctica to study Antarctic krill.
Early in my first season working with Dr. Robin Ross and Dr. Langdon Quetin, I knew I'd be back. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. Field station life, the landscape, the biological interactions, the research: everyday was something new and exciting. This led to another field season at Palmer Station, the night shift on the Long-Term Ecological Research cruise and two years of grad school in Santa Barbara completing a Master's degree with Robin and Langdon modeling larval krill dynamics (and the importance of sea ice vs pelagic carbon sources). It also led to a reminder of how small the world actually is... Dr. Maria Vernet, Kenia's graduate school advisor, was a collaborator on my Master's thesis project. Looks like I ended up closer to the picture on Kenia's door than I ever expected...
After finishing my Master's degree, I moved up to San Juan Island where I studied kelp-dominated ecosystems at the Friday Harbor Labs. Here I continued developing my research focused on where animals get there food, and how this energy flow among ecosystems depends on characteristics of the environment.
I continued asking that question in various study systems as a postdoc at the Smithsonian Institution. Collectively, this research sought to understand the influence of changes in primary productivity (the ultimate source of food) on individual animals, community organization, and feedbacks on the environment itself. These complex interactions are particularly important to predict and build resilience to climate change in coastal ecosystems.