Statement of purpose:
I am a second-year master’s student in the Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences department. My interest in marine science began during the many summers I spent on the North Carolina coast with my family. These experiences led me to major in Biological Oceanography and Zoology at NC State University. I first joined the Plankton Ecology Lab, led by Dr. Schnetzer, as a senior undergraduate with the intention to acquire more knowledge about planktonic organisms. I developed a deeper understanding of the importance and impact that microbes have on ecosystem productivity and health. My growing interest in how marine food webs change in response to natural and anthropogenic drivers (e.g. eutrophication, climate change) led me to stay with the lab for my graduate career.
Description of research:
My research focuses on microplankton community dynamics, with a focus on harmful algal species and the presence of associated toxins. It is essential to understand the threat that biotoxins pose to human health and wildlife as climate change has been associated with increased harmful algal bloom (HAB) activity in marine and freshwater systems. Through collaborative research efforts, I will assess algal toxin loads to better understand the current and future risks of algal toxin contamination in mid-Atlantic shellfish. I look forward to contributing information that can affect environmental management strategies, provide insight to HAB risks, and start discussions that can support policy changes to combat and mitigate the climate crisis.
Dr. Astrid Schnetzer (Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, NCSU)