I am a marine evolutionary ecologist. I use seaweed and invertebrate models to explore the impacts of the sea- and shorescape on dispersal, genetic structure and mating systems. I use manipulative field experiments and molecular tools to investigate how genetic diversity is partitioned, particularly in intertidal and subtidal habitats.
I finished my PhD in October 2011 at the Universite de Pierre et Marie Curie (in Paris, though I was based at the Station Biologique de Roscoff) and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (in Santiago, Chile) under the co-direction of Myriam Valero and Juan Correa. My project was one of only two studies exploring the impacts of the intertidal shorescape and the mating system on genetic structure in the red seaweed Chondrus crispus. I was a post-doc for a year and a half at the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom working with John Bishop on biological invasions and Declan Schroeder and Colin Brownlee on the effects of ocean acidification on phytoplankton. I am currently working with Erik Sotka and his lab to explore the invasive history of the red seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla. We were just awarded an NSF grant to further explore when and where possible evolutionary changes facilitating this invasion took place. This grant will enable us to travel to Japan, the western and eastern coasts of North America and Europe to sample populations of G. vermiculophylla. Along with co-Pis Courtney Murren and Allan Strand, we will be exploring genotypic and phenotypic diversity.
This year’s Colloquium was held at Fort Johnson Friday, September 20th through Saturday, September 21st. The Colloquium provides our Marine Biology graduate students and opportunity to develop their scientific presentation skills. We were honored to have Felicia Coleman, Associate Professor of the Coastal and Marine Laboratory at Florida State University, as the Keynote speaker.
The weekend began with a poster session and social, followed by a day full of oral presentations on Saturday. Typically, second years students present posters and oral presentations are presented by students in their third year. Each student is provide with a critique and constructive feedback on their work. The Colloquium ended the award presentations and a Lowcountry Boil celebration. David Coles won for Best Presentation, and Liz Duermit won for Best Poster.
On September 28th, Fort Johnson had another successful beach sweep thanks to George Reikerk, the Beach Sweep Coordinator. Participants included Grice graduate students, students from James Island Charter and Porter-Gaud high schools, as well as DNR and MUSC staff. The area covered included Fort Johnson, Grice Beach, and the south end of Morris Island. All total of 2.3 miles of coastline and 3 boat loads of trash were collected. The trash included 34 bags of trash and usual collection of floats, lumber, boat parts and rope. the This year, Hope Wertz, a Marine Biology graduate student, will be comparing the plastic materials collected with microplastic particles that can be found in our estuarine waters and sediments. You can review a list of what was found: Beach Sweep 2013 summary
Vanessa Bezy is a Grice Marine Biology graduate student studying the impact of microbes on sea turtles in Ostional, Costa Rica. She is attempting to raise money for her research and for hiring research assistants that will assist with the project. Vanessa has set up a campaign online for donations, and she has halfway met her goal. Earlier this year, Vanessa was also awarded the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP) and will use part of the funding to finish her Masters degree, then will go on to work with Dr. Pamela Plotkin at Texas A&M and work towards her PhD. Donate and read more.
Oyster reefs have been challenged by overharvesting, land-based development and poor water quality over the last 100 years. But, what did oyster reefs look like several hundresds of years ago? In an attempt to detect these long-term changes in the vitality of oyster reefs in the Lowcountry, our graduate course in Marine Invertebrates embarked on a collaboration with Martha Zierden of the Charleston Museum to quantify the size, shape and condition of oysters from 2000 years ago to the present. Bottom line: oysters are narrower and shallower but also taller today than before. It is likely these morphological changes reflect lower population sizes today than previously. Research study details can be found on the class website.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Shannon Corrigan, is currently studying sharks and their DNA. She uses the information to track movement of sharks and rays, and where their genes are distributed geographically. Her research is further explained in the video below:
The DiTullio Lab is on their way to the McMurdo Station, Antarctica to TRace the fate of Algal Carbon Export in the Ross Sea (TRACERS). Aboard the RVIBNathaniel B. Palmer, they will be sampling seawater to access its biogeochemical properties to evaluate algal carbon export in the Ross Sea. Read TRACERS blog
The 15th annual Marine Biology Student Research Colloquium was held on September 23 and 24, 2011. The colloquium featured keynote speaker Dr. John Bruno, a marine ecologist and Associate Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Bruno’s research focuses on marine biodiversity, coral reef ecology and conservation, and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Thirteen marine biology and environmental studies students gave oral presentations of their research at the colloquium. Kristin Stover received the best oral presentation award for her talk “Performance changes when exposed to varying oxygen levels in the Atlantic blue crab, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun.” Additionally, seventeen students presented posters of their thesis research this year. Timothy O’Donnell received the best poster presentation award for his research “Characterizing the genetic population structure and genetic influences of winter-kill events in spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) in South Carolina.” The colloquium concluded with a cookout and Lowcountry Boil for students, professors, and attendees at the SCDNR outdoor classroom.
The Burnett lab was featured on the NSF website on Oct 6th. Follow the link to discover more about their research.
College of Charleston’s graduate students in marine biology began the New Year presenting their research at various conferences around the country. Mark Stratton recently presented his research at the Southern Division American Fisheries Society meeting in Tampa, Florida from January 13-16, 2011. This year’s meeting was titled “Fisheries Connectivity: Headwaters to Oceans”. Mark’s poster, “Application of community indicators to the snapper grouper complex in southeastern U.S. Atlantic continental shelf waters” was a part of a special symposium titled “Southeast Reef Fishes”.
On January 20, 2011 the 5th annual Graduate Student Research Poster Session took place on the downtown campus. The following marine biology graduate students presented posters: Jenn Bennett, Walter Blair, Casey Darling, Cameron Doll, Anna Manyak, David Shiffman, Sammi Smoot, Mark Stratton and Kristen Stover. David Shiffman won an award for the best marine biology poster. This poster session highlights the graduate research of multiple disciplines. This year there were 29 entries from Communication, Education, English, Environmental Studies, History, Marine Biology, and Public Administration.