As a coastal ecologist, I am interested in understanding how global changes, such as sea level rise and increasing temperatures, will affect coastal ecosystems. Specifically, I am interested in studying how invertebrate animal communities will be affected by global changes and how these changes will ultimately affect ecosystem function. I am also interested in applying these concepts to natural resource management and policy decisions.
I graduated with my B.S. from Florida State University – Go Noles – and am now a third year Master’s student at Virginia Institute of Marine Science, working with Dr. David S. Johnson. My project aims to understand how consumers indirectly influence salt marsh geomorphic processes, through their interactions with salt marsh plants (i.e. herbivory and facilitation). Salt marsh persistence in the face of accelerated sea level rise relies on vertical accretion and landward migration. Geomorphic processes are the underlying foundation of vertical accretion. With a hot spot of accelerated sea level rise on the northeast coast of the United States, understanding the role of consumers in these processes is vital to predicting the resilience of salt marshes in this region.
Upon completion of my Master’s degree (set to defend January 2018 with May 2018 graduation), I will be moving on to Washington D.C. where I have been selected as a National Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. During this fellowship, I will be working at NOAA’s Ocean Service, Center for Coastal Ocean Science Marine Spatial Ecology Division.