I began my academic career as a natural scientist interested in bridging fundamental ecological knowledge and effective ecosystem conservation. As a graduate student in oceanography at the University of Hawaii, I statistically analyzed data from over 80 published population genetics studies to understand broad-scale patterns of marine population structure. My synthesis of these non-standardized data yielded unexpected findings that challenged established assumptions about dispersal patterns between populations of marine organisms. This study contributed to marine conservation by upending a foundational assumption on which marine reserves are designed and was published in the Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Following this work, I joined the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) where I developed marine science curricula for K-12 students and teachers. My work at C-MORE included co-leading a 12-day research expedition across the North Pacific Ocean to investigate the ecosystem effects of marine debris. We analyzed the samples we collected during this cruise to understand the impacts of plastic debris on marine microbial communities and their biogeochemical activities. Our findings were recently published at mSystems