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Physiology and ecology of deep sea corals & temporal change in hydrothermal vent communities in the Western Pacific

Currently research in my laboratory is centered around two projects. One is focused on the physiology and ecology of deep-sea corals and the other examining temporal change in hydrothermal vent communities in the Western Pacific. We have a long-term project underway using digital still images to follow the recovery of deep-sea corals that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In addition, we are conducting laboratory experiments and analysis of corals collected from the sea floor to investigate the responses of corals, and their associated microbes, to oil and dispersant exposure. These later experiments are conducted in collaboration with Dr. Iliana Baums and her laboratory group.

Collaborative projects with other laboratories involve using molecular techniques to examine ecological and phylogenetic questions, and mathematical techniques to model life histories and community interactions. All projects involve data analysis and reporting.

Finally, beginning with our research expedition in April 2016, we are conducting a study to examine temporal changes in a dynamic hydrothermal vent community located in the Western Pacific, between Tonga and Fiji. In this project we will be looking for additional students to assist with image-based community analyses. We are interested in undergraduate students who are willing and able to commit themselves to working with us for at least one year, and at least 10-12 hours a week during that time. We expect students to become reliable and productive members of our research team and participate in laboratory meetings and reading groups as well as work in the laboratory. We have found that lesser levels of commitment prove unsatisfactory for both the students and the research projects leading to frustration for everyone. In return for hard work, students are given training, experience, research credits, and in some cases financial support over the summer. Most of our work is accomplished in the laboratory; however, on average 2 of the most committed undergraduate students participate in research cruises each year.

Number of undergraduates needed: 4-8
Minimum qualifications: Varies with project. Some laboratory course work helpful.

Contact Info

Charles Fisher
219 Mueller Laboratory
Science, Eberly College