Olivia Carreti is interested in understanding how organisms interact with changing habitats, especially in light of climate change and increased anthropogenic influences in the marine environment. She received her BA from St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she studied settlement patterns of blue crabs in shifting SAV communities in the Chesapeake Bay.
Olivia now comes to us from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab where she studied the potential impacts of exotic tiger shrimp on native shrimp species in the Gulf of Mexico. For her MS at NC State, Olivia will be studying the underwater soundscapes and fish production of heavily fished oyster reefs in Pamlico Sound to understand their total contribution to the estuarine soundscape and fish community.
Kayelyn Simmons aspires to work in the field of reef fish ecology and coral reef conservation. She earned her BS in Marine & Environmental Science at Hampton University where she pursued several REUs, one of which focused on the early life history of the bicolor damselfish, Stegastes partitus in the Upper Florida Keys followed by earning her MS in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University where she researched the parasite diversity within the lionfish complex, Pterois volitans/miles, in the Western Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Following this, she spent a semester studying abroad at James Cook University to gain more experience in scientific scuba diving, fisheries science and marine life conservation.
Her PhD research explores the connection between habitat complexity and reef fish biodiversity across a suite of marine reserves within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary using two high-resolution, non-invasive methods – underwater soundscapes and structure-from-motion photogrammetry. Together, these methods aim to holistically characterize benthic reef habitats, fish spawning grounds, and evaluate the efficacy of marine protected areas from a conservation management perspective in the face of anthropogenic (e.g. overfishing) and climatic (e.g. hurricanes) stressors.
Kayelyn has been awarded the 2021 John A. Knauss Fellowship and will be working with the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program upon completing her dissertation.
Erin is a PhD Candidate who’s dissertation research focuses on juvenile blue crab habitat usage in Pamlico Sound. In particular Erin looks to better understand the factors that related to habitat availability and juvenile blue crab density and distribution within these habitats. An element of this research includes using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to map marsh shorelines and their change overtime.
In addition to her dissertation research Erin is active in science communication and outreach and runs the science instagram account @esturarine.erin. As a native Marylander the blue crab has always been close to Erin’s heart and preferably her stomach.
Erin initially became interested in marine biology and coastal studies while studying biology at her undergraduate alma mater St Mary’s College of Maryland, located directly on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. There she completed her undergraduate thesis on coastal acidification and the dissolution rates of juvenile oysters (Waldbusser et al. 2011).
Following her bachelors Erin moved to Southern California where she completed her Masters in Science in Marine Ecology at San Diego State University studying the effects of seagrass structural complexity on invertebrate grazing rates (Voigt and Hovel, 2019). At NC State, Erin is a Global Change Fellow with the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (SE CASC) and Marine Science Fellow with NC Sea Grant and the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuarine Partnership (APNEP).
Daniel Bowling earned his BS in Marine Biology and Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Following this, he spent many years working and conducting research abroad in Australia and Fiji where he worked with local communities, NGOs, government, universities, and tourism to address local and regional issues, protect critical habitats, study endangered and vulnerable species, and conduct education and community outreach.
His interests are in applied ecology where inter-disciplinary science can investigate and develop real-world and practical solutions. For his PhD., he is working with local oystermen, The Nature Conservancy, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, and regional university colleagues to design and test a statistically robust, cost-effective fishery-independent population survey methodology for subtidal and intertidal oysters in North Carolina.
This new sample design aims to fill some of the data gaps currently surrounding the fishery, which will allow for the future development of a stock assessment.
Ian Grace is interested in deep-sea population dispersal and connectivity. He received his BS degree in Marine Science from North Carolina State University where he researched methane seep habitat composition and species diversity. For his MS research, he is using laser ablation, plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) to assess elemental composition of methane seep mussels, Bathymodiolus spp., shells to identify spatial, bathymetric, and temporal patterns in composition to infer patterns of demersal drift and vertical migration among methane seep sites in the Gulf of Mexico and West Atlantic Margin.
This novel approach to studying deep-sea larval dispersal aims to explain biogeographic paradoxes of species distribution, help validate existing coupled biophysical models of connectivity in the deep-sea, and inform predictions of the response and resilience of seep communities to future anthropogenic impacts such as deep-sea mining and bottom trawling.
Melissa LaCroce is interested in community and benthic ecology as well as habitat conservation. She received her BA from Manhattanville College where she studied the distribution of predator species, Hemigrapsus sanguineus and prey species, Littorina littorea in western Long Island Sound rocky intertidal zones.
After working as an environmental educator aboard traditional sailing vessels on the Long Island Sound and Chesapeake Bay she obtained her MS from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There she studied the seasonality and recruitment of the epibenthic community on an Onslow Bay, North Carolina hard bottom.
As the technician in the Marine Ecology and Conservation Lab she plans to assist all current and future students with their projects and continue to be a life-long learner. Melissa is looking forward to learning more about drone mapping and soundscape metrics.