Jessica is a Marine Biology Ph.D. candidate working on her doctorate at Auburn University. Her research focuses on coral reef ecology and she is able to combine her passions of research, teaching and scuba diving into her work. Along with being a Ph.D. candidate she is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant through her Biology Department, a Graduate Research Assistant through the College of Science and Mathematics Outreach Department, as well as, a SSI Dive Control Specialist and Assistant Scuba Instructor.
The focus of her thesis is on Pederson cleaner shrimps life history including their growth patterns, population dynamics and mating systems. These fascinating Caribbean shrimps participate in cleaning symbioses with reef fishes, and are popular in the aquarium trade. She completed fieldwork with her AAUS Scientific Diving certification quantifying traits of these organisms in the Florida Keys as well as St. Thomas. Her dissertation research on the ecology of cleaner shrimps in the Caribbean opened up a new field of marine biology that was not in her previous research repertoire.
During her undergraduate career, she completed fieldwork on the population dynamics of the green crab, Carcinus maenas, on the coastline of Connecticut, USA. Through her career she hopes to contribute to effective management practices for marine organisms and the conservation of coral reef ecosystems.
Being involved in the community is a very important part of her time at the university. She devotes a great deal of time each semester volunteering for various outreach activities that are hosted by the College of Science and Mathematics and the College of Engineering. She is passionate about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and she thinks it is very important to introduce them to the community as a whole, especially the youth.
She is excited for the community on Saba to join her in learning about the crustaceans of our ocean, including cleaner shrimps and tracking down these crustaceans on the reef!
We will be updating our calendar with activity dates and times as we continue to coordinate our event. Stay tuned!