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Best birthday ever!

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Hey everyone!

My name is Pedro A. Peres and I am a postdoc at Florida International University working with Dr. Heather Bracken-Grissom. The focus of my research is to use genomic methods to understand how fish and crustacean species' DNA has changed over time after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

This is my first DEEPEND|RESTORE cruise and I am more than thrilled! The DEEPEND|RESTORE group has done amazing work in the past years, and we know for a fact that many deep-sea species populations are crashing. But what does genetics have to do with this? Everything! Genetic diversity is expected to follow population size changes, and it represents the potential of populations to deal with environmental changes (higher genetic diversity = higher potential to respond after disturbances).  Therefore, if population abundances are declining, can we detect changes in genetic diversity? If the genetic diversity is declining, species might not be able to survive after a future potential disaster. For this cruise, I am in charge of making sure that all fish specimens are being preserved in the right way for the many genetic analyses we want to do. This means preserving specimens or tissue, writing labels, flash-freezing specimens in liquid nitrogen, sterilizing materials, and changing gloves all the time (haha). If I have a little time, I go bug HBG to look at some of the cool crustaceans we are also collecting. So far, we have more questions than answers..  but I’ll be back in a future post!

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Pedro sampling a whalefish (Photo: H. Bracken-Grissom) and a dragonfish that is waiting to be processed (Photo: P.A. Peres)

Besides all the scientific experience, I celebrated my 30th birthday on board and had a surprise party! Who else can say they spent their 3.0 birthday in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, with lots of cool creatures and amazing people? For sure an experience I will remember for a long time.

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Happy Birthday to Pedro!  (Photo: A. Cook)

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Dr. Heather Judkins is an associate professor in the Integrative Biology Department at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She received a Bachelors degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, Masters degree in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University and her PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on understanding the evolution, ecology, and biogeography of cephalopods with a main focus currently in the Wider Caribbean. Her role in this project includes the identification of deep-sea cephalopods, examining genetic diversity, and analysis of cephalopod ecology and distribution in the water column.

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Guest Monday, 15 August 2022