Water has been a consistent, in my life for over twenty years. At the age of three through the Roxborough YMCA in Philadelphia, the relationship was forged through daily swim lessons. Throughout middle and high school I was a competitive swimmer; strengthening my comfort and skill in the water. Because of my comfort level, I relished going to the beach. Boogie-boarding with my cousin’s or body surfing, the ocean brought me peace and adventure. It was not until I spent a summer at the University of Penn as a Teen Research and Education in Environmental Science (TREES) student that I realized I could make a career out of studying natural phenomena. Entering Hampton University a as Marine and Environmental Science major, I knew I would do something focused on studying nature, however the details were still hazy. Hampton helped to clarify the numerous paths I could take within marine and environmental science. The nail in the coffin came when I participated in The Diversity Project an initiative through the University of California Office of the President to get a SCUBA certification and travel to one of the most biodiverse regions in the world,Bali Indonesia. Upon seeing my first coral reef in person, I was hooked and knew I wanted to see more. The following year, I entered as a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCLA, where I worked in the Fong lab. A common sign of coral degradation is the transition from coral to algal dominance. My PhD research focused on the environmental factors influence turf algal proliferation across a gradient of reefs in Moorea French Polynesia. I graduate with my PhD in Biology in 2019 from UCLA. Currently I am working at the University of Penn as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. My research focuses on examining the diversity of turf algae over a gradient of reefs using metagenomic techniques.
“Those who cannot forget the past are destined to remix it” -Evie Shockley