Laura Weber earned her bachelor of sciences in biology from University of Maryland and is now a PhD candidate in Biological Oceanography within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint PhD program. Laura is advised by Dr. Amy Apprill, an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Laura’s dissertation focuses on how tropical scleractinian coral colonies influence the microbial diversity, composition, and dynamics within reef seawater microbial communities and how this influences coral reef ecosystem biogeochemistry. She uses cultivation-independent sequencing of seawater samples collected from the environment and bioinformatic analysis to understand the patterns and dynamics of these reef seawater microbial communities. In her talk “An introduction to the coral ecosphere” Laura will share some preliminary results from one of the chapters of her dissertation, a chapter that focuses on understanding microbial patterns of diversity within coral ecospheres – a seawater region in close proximity to individual coral colonies that is likely impacted by the physical and chemical influences of the coral colonies. Laura will also talk about future experiments she will be conducting this summer that are designed to functionally assess how chemicals released from corals are used by these coral ecosphere microbial communities.
Deepa Rao is a PhD candidate in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program for Biological Oceanography. She models non-trophic interactions in marine microbial communities, focusing on the interactions between phytoplankton and bacteria and the exchange of vitamin.B12. She is also an avid watercolor painter. Her talk is titled Exploring the Ocean’s Microbial Social Network: An Introduction to Microbial Interactions.
Jim Yoder, WHOI’s Dean of Education will introduce the speakers.
The Joint Program between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been in existence since 1968, linking these two topnotch academic institutions in a co-operative program in graduate studies in oceanography, granting a joint PhD. The students spend part of their time in Cambridge at MIT and part in Woods Hole. Typically, students spend the first two years of the program at MIT—though this depends on the student’s specialty and advisor. Most students spend summer semesters at WHOI. On both campuses, students have the resources of a world-class research institution at their fingertips.