Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Aquarium
Director of Education and Research, PhD Student
Marine habitats and issues have been my passion since I was a child growing up on the Chesapeake Bay. I have dedicated my career to educating and research, from sea turtle conservation, groundfish operations, anthropogenic effects and my PhD research, coral reef habitats. As Director of Education for the Oklahoma Aquarium, I share my knowledge with half a million visitors annually! After a 25 year career in marine biology, I began to explore bio-fluorescence and realized that there was much to be learned regarding the functionality and potential importance for failing reef systems. Building on previous research, I am studying the stress response of Scleractinian corals by measurement of fluorescence emission, and how we may use this as an early indicator for reef health prior to bleaching. Through the trials I am conducting with relevant climate change induced variables, I am also identifying the hardier corals that could be utilized in reef replanting programs. As we move forward, we need to rethink how we conserve coral reefs and I hope to add to that body of knowledge and provide some additional tools to preserve our important reef habitats.