free bootstrap template

International Research Experience for Students

While enrolled as a M.Sc. student at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, I began my Ph.D. concurrently at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). At UCSC, I am continuing to develop my interests as to how organisms change in response to their environment, but focusing now on genetic shifts. Method development for my Ph.D. thesis was conducted this past summer in Eilat, Israel. The purpose was to familiarize myself with DNA extraction and qPCR methodologies by determining the presence of diverse symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium) in corals. These procedures were essential for me to learn because Symbiodinium clades often differ in thermal tolerance, which can cause some corals to persist at much higher temperatures than others. This implies that different clades of Symbiodinium may be integral to ensuring coral survival amidst a warming ocean. A priority of this study was determining the presence of a thermally-tolerant Symbiodinium, ‘Clade D.’ The presence of Clade D had never been reported for Israeli reefs. However, through my utilization of a methodology 1000x more sensitive than previous studies, I was able to document its presence. Interestingly this Clade D was found in two individuals of the same species that were both exhibiting discoloration. Therefore, in these corals, it is possible that Clade D is not serving a beneficial role, but may instead be acting opportunistically to infect the host during stress. I am presently analyzing this data and hope to publish it in 2018.


  1. The first study to document clade D in Eilat! - Previous studies have only documented the presence of Clades A & C. This study adds to this knowledge through the reporting of additional clade D.  
  2. Presented Research - The study and its results were presented as two 10 minute talks at UCSC.
  3. Work is still in progress