Thursday, November 14, 2013

Where are they now? Gina Contolini

Studying moon snails with Allan and Rachel early in 2013 was an amazing experience, and I was sad to leave. 

Me (Gina) at our moon snail field site at Venado Beach in February 2013.

Now, I am doing my own research at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) where I just started as a PhD graduate student in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. 

I work at the Long Marine Lab, the marine division of the department. My advisors are Dr. Mark Carr, a subtidal ecologist, and Dr. Eric Palkovacs, a freshwater evolutionary ecologist. 

A picture of the Long Marine Lab from the Monterey Bay. Picture from the UCSC EEB website.

I don't have a thesis project yet, but I am interested in eco-evolutionary dynamics in marine ecosystems, and especially how humans cause evolution in these systems. I want to know to what degree trait change in marine species causes change in the environment, and how these changes can lead to further evolution. 

Currently, I am considering studying systems in inter- and subtidal ecosystems and fisheries. I hope someday my research informs marine management. I am particularly interested in the sheephead-urchin trophic dynamic in kelp forests in the Channel Islands. 

I am originally from Portland, OR, so my move to central California was not a huge change, but it is certainly much warmer and drier. I love the area, the school, the department, and all the other students I've met so far. There are a million outdoor things to do in Santa Cruz, and there is always something fun to do to keep me busy. Below are some pictures of my experiences here!

Me testing the stinging cells of a sea anenome by licking it. They worked. 

A hollowed out tree in Big Sur.

View of the Big Sur coastline.

Tidepools behind the Long Marine Lab.

For more information about what I'm up to, visit my website!

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