Meet the Blog Team
Meet the team of talented team of bloggers from the Marine Science Center.
Hello and Welcome to the COS blog! I am Kylla, a PhD student in the Biology Department at Northeastern. I am fortunate to be stationed at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center at picturesque East Point, Nahant, Mass. I work in the Bracken Lab studying the genetic structure of single species populations and its ecological consequences for whole communities and ecosystems. Life as a field biologist is pretty sweet – you set your own hours (by the tides for me) and spend lots of time outdoors in pretty places (I work from Lubec, ME to Nahant, MA). Besides research, I also TA lab courses in ecology, marine biology, and marine botany and enjoy helping with the outreach program here at the Marine Science Center.
Prior to my life as a PhD student in the northeast, I was in sunny southern California where I grew up, got a BS and MS in biology at Cal State University Northridge, and then served as an adjunct professor at several Los Angeles-area colleges. I’ve enjoyed the excitement and tribulations of living in a new place and climate!
When I am not working on science and grad student related stuff I like to cook, sew, and walk my dog… and travel wherever and whenever possible!
Kylla can be reached at benes.k at husky.neu.edu
I’ve lived all over the country, and my varied interests match my varied homes. I was born in Baltimore, but spent most of my childhood in Wisconsin so I’ll always have a soft spot for Midwestern friendliness and dairy products of all sorts (cheese curds, anyone?) After getting my BA in biology from Kalamazoo College in Michigan (which included 6 months abroad studying ecology in Ecuador), I took a breather from academia to pursue a more creative career in film production in Los Angeles. “Creative” is a bit of a stretch, although I did try to make mail delivery and coffee-fetching as inspiring as possible. After a few less than stellar films with a production company, I returned to my passion in science as a PhD student here at Northeastern.
I’m now a fourth year Ph.D. student building robotic lobsters in the lab of Dr. Joseph Ayers. These robots allow me to study lobster neuroscience and I also get to build a pretty cool vehicle for a variety of underwater tasks. So if you ever need a robotic lobster, I’m your man. When I’m not working in an underground bunker at the Marine Science Center in Nahant, I spend my time playing volleyball, running, tutoring at a local GED program, having Kinect dance battles, and serving on the City of Revere’s Conservation Commission. Did I mention I love ice cream?
Dan can be reached at blustein.d at husky.neu.edu
My name is Becca and I am a first year PhD student in Steve Vollmer’s lab studying the genetics of corals and coral disease in Caribbean acroporids. Before joining Northeastern University and the Marine Science Center in Nahant, I lived in Maryland where I got my BS in Cellular Biology and Molecular Genetics from the University of Maryland in College Park. Go Terps! So far I love living in New England! Especially since I get to spend January SCUBA diving at the Smithsonian field station in Panama rather than shoveling my sidewalk. In my free time I like to read, do yoga, play cello, and travel as much as possible.
Becca can be reached at certner.r at husky.neu.edu
I’m David, PhD student in Prof. Steve Vollmer’s lab for more than four years. Steve convinced me to come to Boston after meeting him at STRI in Panama, where I did my Master research. Apart from the winter, I like Boston I’m working on the genetics of Pocillopora corals in the Pacific, mostly Panama and French Polynesia. And I like that too I’m originally from the rural, land-locked south of Germany, not Bavaria! –the other south, Baden-Württemberg. I studied Ecology in Essen and for one year at the Simon Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela. I like living in other countries, the beach, biking, politics, people, the sun, soccer and foosball, the Celtics, good concerts, good food and smileys
David can be reached at combosch.d at husky.neu.edu
I’m a first year graduate student in Dr. Jon Grabowski’s lab at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center in Nahant. I am a native son of Massachusetts, but I ventured far from the Bay State before returning home to pursue a PhD. In the time between graduating from college and starting grad school, I worked in a number of industries including biotechnology, compliance auditing, bartending, and fruit-picking. I eventually made my way back to scientific research via volunteering for a cetacean behavioral biology research project in the South Pacific. I returned to the US and restarted my academic career studying smaller organisms, investigating the early life history of striped bass Morone saxatilis while pursuing a MS in ecology at the University of Maryland.
I am interested in the population dynamics of fish and the consequences of exploitation (i.e. fishing). My current research is focused on the biodiversity of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua in the Gulf of Maine. Although we tend to think of natural populations as monolithic groups composed of relatively undifferentiated entities, there’s a lot of variability between individuals. This diversity contributes to the stability and resilience of natural populations in the same way that a diversified investment portfolio protects your savings from the volatility inherent in the value of any single stock.
When I’m not at the lab, I spend my time being a dad, running, drinking coffee, reading, and trying to appreciate the nuances of the reality TV shows my wife enjoys watching.
Chris can be reached at conroy.chr at husky.neu.edu
I’m in my fourth-year working toward my PhD in biology and traveling around between the North Shore, Panama and Istanbul. As part of the Vollmer Lab, I study the genetics of corals, which has been the excuse for me to spend a number of months in Bocas del Toro, Panama – working at the Smithsonian field station. I spend the school year working at the lab in Nahant and for the holidays, I visit my family in Istanbul, Turkey. In my ‘free’ time I am hanging out with my fabulous dog, Kay, wandering or reading or painting, or trying to juggle. I also love yoga and running and attempting to surf. Before coming to Northeastern, I got my masters from UNC Wilmington working in the lab of Ami Wilbur on the population genetics of bay scallops.
Liz can be reached at hemond.e at husky.neu.edu
I’m Lara, a second-year PhD student at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center. I work in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Ayers investigating the role of gene expression in small nervous systems using the very interesting and delicious species, the American lobster (though I am an ‘equal opportunity’ crustacean neuroscientist, and also work with species of spiny lobster and the crab, Cancer borealis).
Living in Boston and having an ocean-view research lab certainly has its charms, though its taking me a while to adjust to this “small city” having spent the majority of the last five years in London, Florence, and New York City. In addition to graduate school and traveling, I spend my free time sharing my knowledge of science with K-12 youth programs, learning to cook new recipes (with wine pairings, of course!), and going to see the ballet and live music.
Lara can be reached at lewis.lar at husky.neu.edu
Hi there! My name is Valerie Perini, but everyone knows me as Val. I am a first year graduate student at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center (MSC), working on my master’s degree in Dr. Matthew Bracken’s Marine Biodiversity Lab- Release the Bracken!
As an undergraduate at Northeastern, I started a cool project documenting seasonal fluctuations in nutrient availability on rocky shores in Nahant. After receiving my B.S. in biology in 2010 and working as a research technician at the MSC, I decided to expand my undergraduate project in to a master’s thesis, examining how nutrient availability can drive community level interactions between primary producers and herbivores on rocks shores. I work primarily with snails and seaweed and you can ask any of my friends or coworkers they will tell you how I can never get my fill of my favorite experimental subjects.
While I am not collecting seaweed, or analyzing its tissues for carbon and nitrogen in the lab, I can probably be found telling others about science. I am actively involved with the Outreach Program at the MSC as well as other science-education youth and community initiatives. I am a strong advocate of the need to promote scientific and environmental literacy in youth and the general public. I hope to further this effort through my participation in this blog, which will hopefully illuminate the triumphs and trials of graduate student life to scientists and non-scientists alike.
Valerie can be reached perini.v at husky.neu.edu