Rebecca Terrett, 2016, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Coral bleaching, the phenomenon of corals turning white under stress, is a well-studied area of coral pigmentation. Yet little else is known about the connection between coral pigments and environmental conditions. Preliminary work in this field suggests that the relationship is not fixed; in fact there appear to be season-dependent trends. This summer I spent 12 weeks at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) helping to study this dynamic relationship by measuring the concentration of chlorophyll in individual corals as well as water temperature every day. Chlorophyll concentration was determined through noninvasive measurements of reflectance using bio-optic techniques. While we anticipated an increase in water temperature to be correlated to a drop in pigmentation for the summer months, we saw an increase in pigmentation, prompting interest in carrying out a multi-year study. Not only did I gain insight into the day-to-day work of marine biologists, but through this internship I also learned how to properly design and conduct my own experiments and research. Although I do not plan to focus on marine science, this internship has encouraged me to pursue a career in scientific research.