Student Disciplinary Research


Mesocosm Experiments at Friday Harbor Labs.

Mesocosm Experiments at Friday Harbor Labs.

Pam Barrett, advised by Joseph Resing, is investigating the supply and cycling of iron and other biologically-important trace metals in the ocean.

Seth Bushinsky, advised by Steve Emerson, is working to better understand the oceans biological carbon pump, improving measurement capabilities and conceptual underpinnings of carbon export.

Andrea Fassbender, advised by Christopher Sabine (NOAA), is working to
better understand the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle. Andrea is
collaborating with scientists and engineers at NOAA PMEL to develop a new
instrument that will measure surface ocean concentrations of Dissolved
Inorganic Carbon (DIC) on a mooring for up to one year. In addition to
instrument development, Andrea works with carbon data from moored buoys to
evaluate seasonal variability in regional carbon cycling in the North
Pacific Ocean.

Kirsten Feifel, advised by Evelyn Lessard, is looking at the influence climate has on some HAB (harmful algal bloom) forming species, locating and identifying cyst beds within Puget Sound to then construct historical records of HAB occurrences and spatial extent. These long term records then allow Kirsten to compare past HAB blooms to available environmental parameters such as sea surface temperature and air temperature to infer potential drivers of change.

Ashley Maloney, advised by Julian Sachs, uses stable hydrogen isotopes in algal lipids preserved in sediments to determine paleorainfall variations in the tropical Pacific.

Anna McLaskey, advised by Julie Keister, is investigating the effects of ocean acidification on zooplankton populations.

Vega Shah, advised by Robert Morris, studies marine bacteria and archaea that mediate critical biogeochemical cycles in the ocean. She is working to develop a culturing method to isolate anaerobic bacteria and archaea to study the consequences of changing oxygen concentrations in the world’s oceans.

Liz Tobin, advised by Danny Grünbaum, focuses on the biological and physical mechanisms that regulate the distributions of harmful algae. She studies the role of individual cell motility “behavior” as algal cells transition between life stages, utilizing novel video-based motion analysis methods to characterize movements and distributions of harmful algae under changing environmental conditions. Her results will be used to better inform geophysical models used for harmful algal bloom forecasts.


Eliza Heery, advised by Ken Sebens, is using field experiments and quantitative models to evaluate how riprap, the rocky material and rubble used to construct jetties, seawalls, etc., influences surrounding benthic communities.

Laura Newcomb, advised by Emily Carrington, investigates how rising temperature and ocean acidification affect the strength, extensibility, and production of byssal threads (which anchor them to rocks) in several Mytilus species to better understand the impacts of a changing ocean on mussels and the communities they help to anchor.

Earth and Space Sciences

Emily Newsom, advised by Cecilia Bitz, focuses on understanding the fundamental drivers of heat transport and circulation in the Southern Ocean; she looks at how changes in surface buoyancy forcing accompanying climate changes (like changes in sea ice, precipitation, glacial melt, and heat fluxes) can modulate the mechanical effects of changing wind patterns on the meridional circulation in the Southern Ocean.

School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Beluga Whales off West Greenland. Photo Credit: Kristin Laidre

Beluga Whales off West Greenland. Photo Credit: Kristin Laidre

Donna Hauser, advised by Kristin Laidre (Applied Physics Lab/Polar Science Center), seeks to understand how top marine predators will adjust and adapt to climate change. Her research will quantify current and predicted habitat use of whales in the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort seas, using projections of sea ice in the 21st century.

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Diana Pietri, advised by Stanley Asah, is interested in the human dimensions of marine systems, particularly in relation to how local communities and governments collaborate to conserve marine resources. Her dissertation research will examine these issues in the Coral Triangle Initiative – a new multilateral, multi-donor partnership between the governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia to protect the diverse marine resources of the region.