I am currently a second-year PhD student at the University of Florida in the Environmental Engineering Sciences Department. However, before diving into graduate school, I pursued work with The Nature Conservancy and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources – major stakeholders in Georgia that are partnering to develop coastal management strategies. During these endeavors, my interest was continually piqued by what is now my focal research topic: marine bivalves! Working with TNC and GA DNR set the stage for my graduate research by providing insight into Georgia’s cultural and historical relationship with shellfish, oyster management challenges, and the current knowledge gaps in bivalve ecosystem services.
Now, I study how the ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa) affects, and is affect by, local water quality and phytoplankton communities due to their physiological functions (i.e. suspension-feeding). Overall, a deeper understanding of the reciprocal exchanges between water quality and the regulating services of suspension-feeders achieved through this work has the capacity to guide management towards innovative, nature-based solutions to promote ecosystem health in coastal communities, especially those faced with cultural eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and other pervasive threats.