- Research Program Mentor
PhD candidate at University of California San Diego (UCSD)
Astrobiology, deep-sea microbiology, environmental microbiology, extremophiles, life in hypersaline environments
BioI am a 5th year PhD candidate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography studying astrobiology and life in extreme environments focusing specifically on the limits of life in hypersaline environments. Additionally, I use tools in molecular and synthetic biology to better understand the mechanisms of how microbial life in the deep sea persist. My interest in oceanography started in high school where I competed in the Blue Lobster Bowl, a quiz style national tournament. From there, I started research as a freshman at the University of Connecticut studying stromatolites and thrombolites using techniques such as scanning electron microscopy, and analysis of exopolyermeric substance and it's role in carbonate chemistry. I had the opportunity to conduct field work with Professor Visscher, my mentor at the time, on many occasions collecting environmental samples from Green Lake in upstate New York. Through this research, I was able to spend time at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod which prepared my well for my current position as a PhD student. Outside of work, I love to pick up on random hobbies such as gardening, mycology, car/scooter, and refrigeration repair. Since I was in high school, I have always enjoyed mentoring and tutoring students in the sciences passing down as much knowledge as I can.
Changes in the microbial community of seawater brines
As seawater evaporates, it precipitates out salts such as halite (NaCl) which can be favorable for specialized microbes such as halophilic (salt-loving) archaea and fungi. However, as brines concentrate with continual evaporation they become hostile for life, and eventually sterile. As the brine concentrates becoming more extreme, what microbes can survive in these environments? This project would explore the changing microbial community in brine environments.