Two international researchers are continuing their work by spending time at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab collaborating with our researchers.
Post-doctoral Associate Candela Marco-Mendez and Ph.D. candidate Joyce Zhai will spend the next year working with Drs. Ken Heck and Ron Kiene, respectively.
Marco-Mendez has collaborated on her research with Dr. Heck and Dr. Just Cebrian since she began her Ph.D. studies at the University of Alicante in Spain since 2009.
"It's interesting to work with other scientists," Mendez said. "If you stay local, then you never see the bigger picture."
Her first two week visit to DISL in 2009 shaped shaped the first chapter of her thesis, which was published in MEPS (Marco-Mendez et al. 2012). Marco-Mendez's work with Drs. Heck and Cebrian in 2009 opened the door for her to work on a study similar to her work at the University of Alicante in 2013.
Dr. Heck invited Marco-Mendez back for a six month internship to study the effects of waterfowl (Aythya Americana, the Redhead Duck and Fulica americana, the American Coot) grazing on submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Mobile Bay Delta, Perdido Bay and Grand Bay (Point aux Pines). The internship also gave her the chance to participate in field-based research, primarily involving monitoring, collection, and processing techniques.
"It's good to have the chance to go elsewhere, and see the connection," Mendez said. “All through these years, I have learned a lot about interaction between herbivores and seagrass ecosystems, and comparing ecosystems can give you the whole picture of what is going on. Sometimes we can find different trends in herbivore behavior that can drive you to another question. That’s how amazing science can be.”
Mendez's research is currently focusing on the tropicalization effect on seagrass.
Zhai, who studies at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, plans to make use of her time at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to expand her scientific toolbox. Zhai's research focuses on dimethylsulfide (DMS), which may play a role in global climate.
Dr. Kiene's research focuses on DMS and understanding how DMS and DMSP are cycled in all regions of the ocean.
Zhai is looking to learn Dr. Kiene's radioisotope techniques for the study of DMS.
"My research has only measured concentrations," Zhai explained. "It's necessary to add some tools to study mechanisms of DMS cycling to my research."
Zhai reached out to Kiene via email for advice a couple of years back after reading a number of his papers. She's looking forward to getting into the field.