Discovering the Big World of Macroalgae

Allie Vann working at home. Photo by: Allie Vann
Allie Vann working at home. Photo by: Allie Vann

By: Allie Vann

Over the summer I had the privilege and pleasure of working as an Intern at the Bodega Marine Lab. Ever since I was a young girl I have been fascinated by marine science, which meant binge-watching ocean documentaries, and reading anything I could get my hands on about marine science. As soon as I heard about this program’s hands-on research experience, I was eager to apply. Although this summer was different with adapting to safety protocols put in place due to the Covid pandemic, I still felt fully immersed in this program and am thankful that this program was able to continue remotely.

Allie Vann (R ) and her mentor, Angie Korabik (L) meet during their weekly one-on-one mentor sessions. Photo by: Allie Vann.
Allie Vann (R ) and her mentor, Angie Korabik (L) meet during their weekly one-on-one mentor sessions. Photo by: Allie Vann.

I worked with my mentor, Angela Korabik whois a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Ted Grosholz's lab, which focuses on invasion ecology and management in coastal ecosystems. My semi-independent project was to construct a record of historical Tomales Bay Algae Communities. We did this by utilizing online herbarium records and other online databases. We then compiled detailed and organized spreadsheets of information about the algae communities, which included where the seaweeds were collected in Tomales Bay, the date of collection, and the phylum in which the species of seaweed belonged. We then used that data to further analyze the relationship between invasive seaweed species and their phylum, where particular algae communities thrive in Tomales Bay, and if the number of invasive species in Tomales Bay has increased over the years

Allie Van with her previous dog by the ocean. Photo by: Allie Vann
Allie Van with her previous dog by the ocean. Photo by: Allie Vann

Being a marine biology student, particularly interested in marine mammals, studying macroalgae (or seaweeds) was very different for me. I soon discovered a whole other world of interest in marine science. Angie indulged my interest by spending some of our meetings teaching me about kelp reproduction, sending me scientific articles about my interests in macroalgae, and encouraged me to participate in other opportunities such as seminars and attending virtual conferences. Some of the highlights from this experience was being able to still participate in this program in light of COVID-19, being able to network with my mentor and other Ph.D. students, and the weekly professional development meetings with speakers who are scientists from all over the world, in various stages in their career.

Biography: Allie Vann is a biology student at the Santa Rosa Junior college who is applying to transfer in the fall to pursue a degree in marine biology. She then hopes to further her education by going to veterinary school to work with marine mammals and to add to the growing research in marine ecology.

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