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Ron Etter Ron Etter

I’m interested in basic questions about the ecology and evolution of marine organisms, especially the forces that control the origin and maintenance of diversity. My research involves correlative, experimental and theoretical approaches and studies at the genetic, population and community levels of organization.  We conduct research in a wide variety of marine ecosystems from the intertidal zone to the deep sea.  I received my BS in biology from UMass/Boston and my PhD in Biology from Harvard University. I am currently a Professor in the Biology Deptartment at UMass/Boston, in the School for the Environment and in the Intercampus School of Marine Science.

Scott Morello

My research focuses on population and community level ecology, typically in shallow ocean ecosystems. I investigate how combinations of ecological processes, occurring on disparate spatial and temporal scales, interact to influence population and community dynamics and structure. I am particularly interested in the larger scale mechanisms modulating population dynamics, and their ultimate consequences for species abundance, distribution and organization. My methods include a blend of small-scale field and laboratory experiments, larger-scale empirical data collection and analysis, and mathematical models in an effort to comprehensively investigate local and regional ecological patterns in a variety of marine systems.

Rachel Labella

I am enrolled in the Environmental Biology PhD program. My research interests include understanding epigenetic inheritance, phenotypic plasticity and heritability in Gulf of Maine organisms subjected to ocean acidification and increased temperatures. I graduated from UCLA in 2011 where I worked in Dr. Paul Barbers lab on identifying genetic relatedness in mantis shrimp throughout the Indonesian Coral Triangle. After graduation, I moved to the Bahamas to work at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. I mainly worked with the Shark Research Program, studying the physiological differences in shark species during longline capture. During my stay there, I conducted field experiments, identifying the influence of sharks on turtle foraging patterns in Half Sound Bay. After a year in the Bahamas I moved to Massachusetts to pursue graduate school.

Aaron Honig -- Aaron is a graduate student in the Etter Lab, co-advised by Dr. Robyn Hannigan in the School for the Environment, and is studying larval dispersal and population connectivity in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, along the northern Gulf of Maine. He is estimating patterns of dispersal using trace element fingerprinting. He is interested in the impact of marine climate change on larval development, dispersal and regional connectivity. He is also working on quantifying post-settlement survival among dispersed mussels, to better quantify long-term population connectivity. Through this research, he hopes to quantify regional population dynamics in the blue mussel, in support of long-term shellfishery management and coastal marine conservation goals. Aaron graduated from Tufts University, studied tropical ecology in Ecuador, taught marine ecology at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in southern California for several years and researched sea turtle nesting ecology in Costa Rica. He earned his Master’s degree from Louisiana State University studying ribbed mussel population ecology, and the potential for mussel bioremediation of degraded salt marsh in southeastern Louisiana.

Hannah Diebboll

I am a PhD student in the Environmental Biology Program. My interest in ecology and evolutionary biology began as an undergraduate at Clark University, where I earned my B.A./M.S. in Biology. I had the opportunity to study abroad at the School for Field Studies on South Caicos, TCI, where I conducted research examining juvenile reef fish assemblages in mangrove forests to better understand the ecological relationships between mangroves and corals reefs. Upon returning to Clark, I joined the Bergmann lab wher I examined dehydration rates of amphibians. This project allowed me to explore the interactions between environment and behavior in light of ecological physiology and evolutionary relationships. After graduating, I gained professional experience working at both the MA Department of Environmental Protection and Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. As a student in Dr. Etter’s lab, I am currently working to hone my interests in marine community ecology, evolutionary biology, phenotypic plasticity and physiology towards a focused project for my dissertation research.

Veronica Iriart

I am an REU intern from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. At Wake Forest, I study Biology and work as a research assistant, conducting research on hormones and mating displays in tropical birds. However, I would say my most extraordinary experience in research thus far was done during a semester abroad at the University of Melbourne, where I participated in a field excursion to French Island, Australia to collect data on the effects of overpopulation in koalas on local eucalyptus trees. While abroad, I was also fortunate to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and it was this close encounter with the breathtaking marine wildlife of the Pacific Ocean that led me to the Etter lab. This summer, I am very excited to work with Dr. Etter and the research team at UMass Boston to continue building my passion for ecology by studying connectivity patterns in marine invertebrates through the innovative technology of trace element fingerprinting. Specifically, my project will be more lab-based, focusing on the effects of growing mussel larvae in water chambers as opposed to free floating conditions. However, I also look forward to more unique first-hand experiences with science and nature out in the field with the Etter lab, spending beautiful sunny days in the Gulf of Maine.

Brian Sukovich

I am an undergraduate biology major at UMass Boston with interests in both ecology and evolutionary biology. Working in Dr. Ron Etter’s lab is providing me with my first opportunity in being able to apply the knowledge I have gained over the last 3 years of university, while allowing me to foster new skills in the hopes of expanding my educational horizons. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I seek to enroll in graduate school to focus my studies on evolutionary biology.

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