Elise Keister headshot.

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My research interest focuses on the impact warming ocean waters will have on foundational coral species in the tropics, which has become imperative with the increase of global bleaching events and identifying thermal tolerance mechanisms already being utilized by coral populations.

Reef-building corals serve as the foundation of coral reef ecosystems, building the structures that provide habitats for millions of organisms. These ecosystems are among the most diverse in the world and their decline will have a long-lasting impact on our coastlines, seafood supply, and economies.

Coral live in symbiosis with endosymbiotic micro-algae, family Symbiodiniaceae, and rely on sugars produced by these algae as their primary energy source. This symbiosis is disrupted under environmental stress, which over extended periods can result in the wide-spread breakdown of coral-algal symbiosis and large-scale bleaching events. The decline of coral reefs is increasing at an alarming rate, due to the stresses that climate change. I have witnessed this decline, on a smaller scale, while living in south Florida for seven years, and thus my passion to work with these important organisms was ignited.

I received my B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami and I have been previously involved in research projects assessing: the physiological impact of OA/TS on four Caribbean coral species, damage on plankton communities following the Deep-Water Horizon Oil Spill, impact of different endosymbiotic microalgae on recently settled coral recruits, biodiversity of Prochlorococcus in the Tropical Eastern Pacific and the impact of heavy metals on Foraminifera growth.

Faculty Advisor: Dustin Kemp

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