My research interests focus on the effects of climate change, specifically ocean acidification, on scleractinian corals. For my M.S. at the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography I studied changes in coral calcification rates over the past century, incorporating geochemical analysis to estimate past sea surface temperature and salinity.
My PhD research focused on the effect of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the ensuing ocean acidification, on coral growth rates. Specifically I applied a new radiochemical tracer to help estimate growth-rates of large scale coral communities. I also looked at calcification rates of individual coral colonies at intra-annual and diurnal timescales. Methods for assessing these rates included seasonal calcein dye staining and subsequent coring of individual colonies and diurnal in situ incubations of coral nubbins. My research was conducted in Bermuda, in affiliation with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS), which provided a unique opportunity to study growth-rates of a threshold coral community that is expected to be affected first by changes in ocean chemistry attributed to global climate change.
Currently I an interested in exploring the mechanisms that are controlling observed changes in coral and net ecosystem calcification rates. I hope to quantify the impact of temperature, light, nutrients, and aragonite saturation states on measured changes in coral calcification rates with in vitro experiments and apply these relationships in situ to better understand what mechanisms are controlling observed seasonal and diurnal changes in coral growth rates. This information may help us understand what impact projected changes in temperature, light, nutrients and CO2 will have on coral growth rates.