Been wondering what our Masters of Professional Science (MPS)students are up to? The University of Miami’s student-run Waterlust Project decided to show you! The team created a GoPro film that highlights a few of the amazing research and internship opportunities available.
The new ‘Wetlab’ video was GoPro’s ‘Video of the Week’ last week!
Launched in 2012, The Waterlust Project has reached more than half a million people with its 11 short films on a variety of ocean-related topics that focus on what water means to us. Their films offer a juxtaposition of academic achievement and artistic creativity that embodies the University as a whole.
Over at Waterlust we decided to produce a short film that captured some of the unique perspectives that graduate students get to experience here at RSMAS. We especially wanted to highlight the Master of Professional Science program in hopes of inspiring up-and-coming students to study the ocean. We searched around campus for things to film and were met with enthusiasm and smiles wherever we went. We lurked on lab groups, loaned cameras to field teams, brought cameras into classrooms, and went into the field ourselves. Passion, dedication, and a desire to find answers was everywhere we turned. We want to thank everybody who helped to make this film. Thank you for making RSMAS the coolest place to go to school.
My name is Katie, and I am currently a senior at the University of Miami studying Marine Science and Biology, but have been spending a lot of time at the Rosenstiel Campus in Dr. Andrew Baker’s Coral Reef Conservation Lab. It has been two years since I have started working alongside Andrew Baker and his graduate students, and I have dedicated all of my time to learning the various genetic techniques to study corals and their algal symbionts.
Ross Cunning, a current RSMAS graduate student in Baker’s lab, has given me a lot of guidance and has taught me a great deal about the different interactions among coral and their algal symbionts. Over the past two years, I analyzed DNA from Panamanian coral fragments to see whether they are acquiring more heat-tolerant algal symbionts over time, which may help them adapt to rising sea temperatures. I have also measured the growth rates of these corals in Tom Capo’s Coral Resource Facility to see how these heat-tolerant symbionts affect coral growth. I have also been working with graduate students Nate Formel and Kelly Montenero to see how different nutrient levels and element concentration levels will affect the symbionts and more so, their resilience to climate change. Overall, the analyses of these samples are quite meticulous, but the data says quite a lot about the relationship between climate change and its effect on corals. One thing I love most about this work is that it is always creating new questions and new possibilities to find an answer.
I hope to complete a Senior Thesis in my last year at the University of Miami. I would like to take a closer look at how the different symbionts of these corals must better adapt to their environment in order to withstand bleaching events in response to climate change.
In the Coral Reef Conservation Research Lab at RSMAS we are conducting experiments on coral bleaching and recovery. Coral bleaching is the breakdown of the relationship between corals and the symbiotic algae that live inside their tissues and provide them with energy through photosynthesis. As the corals lose the algae they also lose their color, hence the term, ‘bleaching.’
In our study, over 600 small coral ‘cores’ were drilled out of larger coral colonies and then experimentally ‘bleached’ by exposure to seawater at 32°C. The different coral cores were bleached to different levels of severity to simulate mild and severe bleaching events in nature.
The corals were then allowed to recover at two different cooler temperatures (24°C and 29°C) for several months, where they regained their algae and their color. As corals recovered, the photosynthetic performance and density of their symbiotic algae was monitored in order to see how both bleaching severity and recovery temperature might affect the speed of recovery, and the types of symbiotic algae they recover with. Some of the corals recovered after the first bleaching experiment with different kinds of symbiotic algae known to be more tolerant to high heat. Now they are being exposed to high heat again to observe how past bleaching history and changes in symbiont communities affect bleaching sensitivity.
— Ross Cunning, RSMAS graduate student
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