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As an undergraduate at UCSB I got the chance to work with Dr. Hofmann and became very interested in physiological ecology. As a result, I joined the graduate program at UCSB and became a student of Dr. Hofmann in 2005. My project focuses on physiological tolerances to abiotic stressors in invertebrate larvae, specifically larvae from the purple urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. I am studying how temperature affects the thermotolerance and upregulation of stress-induced genes across the S. purpuratus range. Knowing how temperature stress affects larvae may have important implications for adult thermotolerance and its distribution. Additionally, I am focusing on two early developmental stages to determine if there are differences in thermotolerance and gene expression throughout development which may greatly influence the likelihood of metamorphosis from larvae to juvenile, and juvenile settlement rates.
In light of climate change and ocean acidification, I am also interested in how ocean acidification will impact larvae of Strongylocentrotus sp. I will be working with S. purpuratus larvae to determine what effects variations in pH will have on fertilization success, development times, spicule formation, and stress-induced genes.