first became interested in the marine sciences in seventh grade, while
snorkeling with my family in Hawaii. I had never experienced such an amazing
environment before while growing up in north central Texas, and I was
instantly captivated by all the organisms that I was seeing underwater.
I followed this interest to marine biology camps in high school and chose
Connecticut College for my undergraduate education to be closer to the
coast to work with their well-known marine biology oriented faculty. While
I was at Connecticut College, I was able to take part in a semester of
classes and research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods
Hole, MA. This was an amazing semester that provided me with experience
in conducting scientific research and knowledge in the current state of
research in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems around the world. I
loved my semester at the MBL so much that I returned the following summer
as a visiting scientist conducting research on salt marshes in northern
Massachusetts. I was able to use part of this research to conduct an honors
thesis with professors at my college as part of my undergraduate education.
All of these experiences helped solidify my decision to go strait into
a graduate program and continue to further my research experience and
education. I wanted to go into a program where I could study the chemical
defenses of marine sponges, and I found this position at Georgia Southern
University (GSU) working with Danny Gleason. I am currently studying the
distribution of chemical defenses in the body of sponges at Gray’s
Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS). I am approaching this study by
using HPLC to quantify the defensive compounds in different regions of
the sponge. I will also be testing the deterrent ability of these chemicals
in feeding assays with invertebrate predators on the reef like sea stars
and crabs. After I complete my Masters at GSU, I will apply for a Ph.D.
position studying the chemical ecology of reef invertebrates. I would
ultimately like to work at a university with a balanced mix of teaching
and research responsibilities where I can continue my research in this
University of AL
Undergraduate Education: University of Richmond (Richmond, Va):
-Bachelors Degree in Biology and Sociology (May 2001)
Graduate Education: University of Alabama at Birmingham:
-Master’s Degree in Biology (May 2003)
-Thesis Title: Phylogenetic Analysis and Cyanobacterial
Symbionts of Verongid Sponges
-Doctoral Degree in Biology (Expected May 2006)
-Dissertation Title: Community Structure, Genetic Identification,
and Ecological Importance of Sponge-
My research at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary involves the
taxonomic analysis of marine sponge species using DNA sequence data. Sponges
are simple animals, and may change their shape based on environmental
conditions, thus the same species may appear different in two habitats.
The use of genetic data tells us whether sponge samples are truly different
species, or just different growth forms. The sponges found at GRNMS represent
a unique community consisting of northern Atlantic (e.g. Bermuda) species,
southern Caribbean (e.g. Bahamas) species, and some potential unique species.
I am from Toledo, Ohio. I have a bachelors degree in zoology from Ohio
Wesleyan University and I am working on my masters at Georgia Southern
University in biology. Her current research is investigating the dispersal
of a temperate coral at 5 separated reefs off the coast of Georgia, including
two reefs inside Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary. I am using genetic
assays, histocompatibility assays, and transects of established adult
distribution data to determine if Oculina arbuscula disperses locally
(within reefs) or long distances (between reefs).
am a first year Master of Science candidate at Georgia Southern University.
I graduated in the fall of 2003 with a B.S. in Biology at Armstrong Atlantic
State University in Savannah, GA. I am in the process of completing my
research proposal, which will address inducible chemical defenses in temperate
of my visit aboard the Nancy Foster research cruise is to collect several
tissue samples of different sponge species to be analyzed for presence
of deterrent secondary metabolites. Once the presence of secondary metabolites
are confirmed and identified; I will proceed to quantify these compounds
to determine any chemical vulnerability within certain species. This preliminary
data will allow me to better judge the potential fro the presence of inducible
defenses in any of the sponge species collected.
a Florida native I have always had a strong connection to the water. Although
I took a landlocked detour to Hanover College, Indiana for 4 years, more
recent stints have kept me close to the seas by working in environmental,
marine and fisheries conservation in the Caribbean, Africa, and New Zealand.
Currently, I am continuing on this track by pursuing a graduate degree
at Georgia Southern University. The majority of my thesis is focused on
sponge community structure at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
and nearby hard bottom reefs off the Georgia coast. I am primarily focused
on how predator prey interactions and how the possession or absence of
chemical and physical defenses within a sponge may influence their distribution
on the reef. Specifically on this cruise I will be transplanting sponges
from areas of low predation to high predation to see if predators are
responsible for restricting the growth of undefended sponges to areas
on the reef where predation is low or limited.
Gleason is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Biology at Georgia
Southern University. He received his B.S. degree in Biology from Furman
University in 1980, and M.S. (1984) and PhD (1992) degrees, also in biology,
from the University of Houston. He has conducted research in a variety
of marine ecosystems, including salt marshes, coral reefs, and temperate
hard-bottom reefs. A couple of highlights of his research career include
a 2-year stint at the West Indies Laboratory in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin
Islands to study mechanisms by which Caribbean corals deal with environmental
stress and living underwater for 10 days in the Aquarius Undersea habitat
to initiate studies of the effects of ultraviolet radiation on coral bleaching.
He has been conducting research in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
since 2001, and currently serves on the advisory counsel for this sanctuary.