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Meet DEEPEND's graduate students!

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There are five amazing graduate students on board the R.V. Point Sur that are assisting with the DEEPEND cruise. The five students are diligently working each day to make sure that samples are processed correctly, DNA is collected, and stable isotopes are managed properly. The five graduate students are Katie Bowen, Lacey Malarky, Travis Richards, Max Weber, and Laura Timm.

Katie Bowen, originally from Pennsylvania, is a graduate student in Dr. Tracey Sutton’s Oceanic Ecology Lab at Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Oceanography and Natural Sciences, and is currently pursuing her Masters in marine biology. Her thesis project focuses on juvenile reef fishes collected in the northern Gulf of Mexico from a 2011 cruise on board the M/V Meg Skansi. She is interested in the species composition, biomass, as well as the horizontal and vertical distribution of the juvenile fishes within the water column. On this DEEPEND cruise, Katie is assisting with fish genetic processing and is enjoying her first research cruise on board the R.V. Point Sur.


Katie Bowen

Lacey Malarky, originally from Kansas, is a graduate student in Dr. Tracey Sutton’s Oceanic Ecology Lab at Nova Southeastern University Halmos College of Oceanography and Natural Sciences.  She is currently pursuing her Masters, studying the faunal composition, distribution and abundance of larval flatfishes in the open ocean Gulf of Mexico.  While adult flatfishes are generally found in coastal areas, their larvae develop in offshore surface waters, and are a dominant component of the oceanic ichthyofaunal composition in the northern Gulf of Mexico.  She is contributing to the DEEPEND science team on this cruise by quantifying and measuring all fish specimens collected and managing the biological and environmental database.



Lacey Malarky

Travis Richards, originally from Alabama, is a graduate student working on his Ph.D. in marine biology at Texas A&M University Galveston. His research interests focus on aspects of community ecology and food web dynamics with an emphasis on predator-prey relationships, spatial and temporal variation in food web structure, and the role that animal movement and migration plays in connecting habitats. For his dissertation he will be working with Dr. Wells to determine how the daily vertical migration of fishes and invertebrates serves as a trophic link between bathypelagic (1000-4000 meters), mesopelagic (200-1,000 meters), and epipelagic (0-200 meters) zones. He is contributing to the DEEPEND science team by helping deploy and retrieve the MOCNESS trawl and CTD rosette (sensor for measuring salinity, temperature, and depth), processing samples, and filtering sea water to collect particulate organic matter (POM) which will be used for future chemical analyses.



Travis Richards

Max Weber, originally from California, is a graduate student working on his Masters in marine biology at Dr. Eytan’s Lab at Texas A&M University Galveston. This is his second DEEPEND research cruise and he has been working on the fish genetics portion of the project. He is hoping to take tissue samples from 15 individuals of the 500 known species present in this region. The tissue samples collected will allow the team to “DNA Barcode” the individuals, essentially looking at the sequence present on specific regions of each species genome. Very little is known about the species DEEPEND is studying, therefore genetic information will provide a tool to answer questions related to life history, genetic diversity, and population connectivity. While on the ship, Max assigns each individual fish a unique identification number, cuts a small piece of tissue out for DNA extraction, and then stores the individual. He has greatly enjoyed his time on the ship and considers himself fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to see fishes that are typically inaccessible and viewed by few.



Max Weber

Laura Timm, originally from Minnesota, is a graduate student working on her Ph.D. at Dr. Heather Bracken-Grissom’s Crustacean Genetics Lab at Florida International University in Miami, FL. On the cruise, she collects shrimp, krill, and other crustaceans for genetic barcoding and population genetics studies. Back in the lab, she will extract the DNA from every individual and sequence the COI gene to barcode the individual. This results in a long list of sequences unique to each species. Her Ph.D. research focuses on gene flow and population connectivity in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the species she collects are very important to the ecology of the Gulf. Laura uses next-generation sequencing techniques (namely RADseq) to analyze gene flow and characterize population structure. This informs us as to how much genetic diversity exists within a species and how that diversity is distributed in the Gulf. Understanding this helps us gauge the risk and importance of crustacean species living in the deep pelagic of the Gulf of Mexico.


Laura Timm


Some candids of the grad students!

b2ap3_thumbnail_max-and-katie.jpg    b2ap3_thumbnail_Sargassum.jpg

b2ap3_thumbnail_Lacey-pouring-the-bucket.jpg    b2ap3_thumbnail_laura1.jpg





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Guest Tuesday, 28 June 2022