PhD Student News - Summer/Fall 2016

Grants and Awards
Notes from the Field
Teaching, Collaboration, and Community Engagement
Life Milestones

Academic Milestones

Congratulations to the following students for successfully defending their PhD dissertations!

Dr. Haydee M. Dominguez Tejo- ‘Distribution and Conservation of the Antillean Manatee in Hispaniola.’ Dr. Dominguez Tejo is now a Research Scientist at the Marine Biology Research Center, Autonomous University of Santo Domingo.

Dr. Goldie Phillips – ‘An Evaluation of Passive Acoustic Abundance Estimation Methods using Bottlenose Dolphin Signature Whistles.’ Dr. Phillips will be starting a postdoctoral position at Scripps in April 2018.

Dr. Alyse Larkin-Swartout – ‘Ecological Controls on Prochlorococcus sp. Diversity, Composition, and Activity at High Taxonomic Resolution’. Dr. Larkin-Swartout is now a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Adam Martiny's lab at UC Irvine

Dr. Matthew Bowers – ‘The Role of Size and Sex in the Foraging Strategies of Short-Finned Pilot Whales Globicephala macrorhynchus.’

Grants and Awards

Sarah-Bess Jones was named a PhD fellow in the PhD Lab in Digital Humanities.

Liz (Schrack) Shaver received a number of grants and awards this year, including:
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Internship Program ($5000);
Duke University Graduate Student Training Enhancement Grant ($4500);
Duke Wetland Center Graduate Student Support Grant ($5000).

Hillary Smith, Joe Fader and Alejandro Garcia Lozano received the Bass Connections Grant for their project titled 'Human-wildlife interactions at sea.’ Working alongside Lisa Campbell, Andy Read, undergraduates and master’s students, they will be studying social and ecological aspects of pilot whale depredation of tuna long-line fisheries on the Atlantic coast. 

Stacy Zhang was selected as the 2016 NC Sea Grant and Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership Fellow. Her research will investigate how simultaneous restoration of oyster reef and seagrass habitats alter restoration trajectory. 


Guillermo Ortuño Crespo condensed the first chapter of his dissertation into a policy brief, which was used to inform delegates at the United Nations about the impacts of fisheries on open-ocean ecosystems and open-ocean biodiversity. The policy brief was distributed and presented by Dr. Daniel Dunn at the 1st and 2nd Preparatory Committee meetings, which took place in New York in March and September 2016 respectively.

Policy brief found at:

Julia Burrows:
Burrows, J.A., Johnston, D.W., Straley, J.M., Chenoweth, E.M., Ware, C., Curtice, C., DeRuiter, S.L., Friedlaender, A.S., 2016. Prey density and depth affect the fine-scale foraging behavior of humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae in Sitka Sound, Alaska, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series 561:245-260

Joy Stanistreet:
Stanistreet, J.E., Nowacek, D.P., Read, A.J., Baumann-Pickering, S., Moors-Murphy, H.B. and Van Parijs, S.M., 2016. Effects of duty-cycled passive acoustic recordings on detecting the presence of beaked whales in the northwest Atlantic. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 140(1), pp.EL31-EL37.

Seth Sykora-Bodie:
D. Shallin Busch, Roger Griffis, Jason Link, Karen Abrams, Jason Baker, Russell E. Brainard, Michael Ford, Jonathan A. Hare, Amber Himes-Cornell, Anne Hollowed, Nathan J. Mantua, Sam McClatchie, Michelle McClure, Mark W. Nelson, Kenric Osgood, Jay O. Peterson, Michael Rust, Vincent Saba, Michael F. Sigler, Seth Sykora-Bodie, Christopher Toole, Eric Thunberg, Robin S. Waples, Richard Merrick. 2016. Climate science strategy of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Services. Marine Policy, 74, pp.58-67.

Anastasia Quintana:
Garcia-Vedrenne, A.E., Quintana, A.C.E., DeRogatis, AM, Dover, C.M., Lopez, M., Kuris, A.M. and Hechinger, R.F. in press. Trematodes with a reproductive division of labor: Heterophyids also have a soldier caste and early infections reveal how colonies become structured. International Journal for Parasitology.

Phillip Turner and Jamie Wagner:
Meyer, K.S., Wagner, J.K., Ball, B., Turner, P.J., Young, C.M. and Van Dover, C.L., 2016. Hyalinoecia artifex: Field notes on a charismatic and abundant epifaunal polychaete on the US Atlantic continental margin. Invertebrate Biology, 135(3), pp.211-224.

Phillip Turner and Stacy Zhang:
Clark, J.S., Nemergut, D., Seyednasrollah, B., Turner, P.J. and Zhang, S., 2016. Generalized joint attribute modeling for biodiversity analysis: Median‐zero, multivariate, multifarious data. Ecological Monographs.


Leslie Acton, Elizabeth Clark and Guillermo Ortuño Crespo presented at the International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (July 2016). Leslie gave an oral presentation titled ‘Space for conservation: Negotiating oceans governance in Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea.’ Elizabeth gave an oral presentation titled ‘Governing fisheries in a changing climate: Social responses to geographic shifts in Northeast US Fisheries’, co-authored by B. Dubik, T. Young and S.B. Jones. Guillermo gave an oral presentation on the impacts of fisheries on open-ocean ecosystems, which is the topic of the first chapter of his dissertation.

Guillermo Ortuño Crespo participated and presented at the International Marine Conservation Congress pre-congress focus group: ‘Conserving the other 50% of the world: status and opportunities in conservation of areas beyond national jurisdiction’. The presentation was on the ecological impacts of fisheries in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Guillermo Ortuño Crespo gave an oral presentation in session 18 (‘Science to support sustainable fisheries in changing ecosystems’) of the 7th World Fisheries Congress in Busan (South Korea). His talk was on the impacts of fisheries on open-ocean ecosystems, which is the topic of the first chapter of his dissertation.

Bradford Dubik, Elizabeth Clark, and Sarah Bess Jones presented in Beaufort for the Duke University Marine Lab Seminar Series (October 26th 2016), presentation titled ‘Shifting Fisheries: Understanding Human Responses to Environmental Change’.

Sarah Bess Jones presented at the Society for Applied Anthropology in April 2016, presentation titled ‘Following indigeneity in large-scale marine conservation in Rapa Nui’.

Sarah Loftus presented at the Algae Biomass Summit in Phoenix, AZ. Her poster, titled ‘Meta-analysis reveals influential and non-influential factors affecting algae growth success in recycled cultivation water’, won first place in the Young Researcher Poster Competition, Biology Category. 

Sarah Loftus was awarded honorable mention for her oral presentation at the 2016 UPE Symposium on main campus in Durham, presentation titled “Cross-study analysis of factors affecting algae growth in recycled medium.”

Both Shay Viehman and Liz (Schrack) Shaver presented at the NOAA Workshop to Advance the Science and Practice of Coral Restoration, Fort Lauderdale, FL. November 15 – 17th 2016. Shay was on the workshop planning committee, chaired the session on 'Tools for Restoration Site Selection', and co-chaired the session on 'Scaling Up Monitoring for Ecosystem Success'. Shay gave an oral presentation on 'Species distribution modeling of ESA corals to inform restoration site selection' and Liz gave an oral presentation titled ‘New coral restoration content for the Reef Resilience online toolkit’.

Liz (Schrack) Shaver gave an oral presentation at the International Coral Reef Symposium, Honolulu, HI. June 2016, titled ‘Effects of predation and nutrient enrichment on the success and microbiome of a foundational coral’ and co-authored by Shantz AA, McMinds R, Burkepile, Vega-Thurber R, Silliman BR.

Phillip Turner presented at the closing meeting for the EU funded project MIDAS (Managing Impacts Of Deep Sea Resource Exploitation), in Ghent Belgium. October 2016. Presentation titled ‘Ecological Risk Assessment for Deep-Sea Mining in the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction.’

Joanna (Zhao) Wang presented a poster at the 2016 annual meeting of the North Carolina Branch of the American Society for Microbiology on October 1, 2016 in Wilmington, NC. Presentation titled ‘Microbial responses to climate change associated stressors: pH and temperature.’

Notes from the Field

Sarah Bess Jones spent 8 weeks over the summer in Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) collecting data for the “Human Dimensions of Large Marine Protected Areas” project. She collected 39 interviews and conducted participant observation at 36 community meetings.

Anastasia Quintana spent 3 months this summer in Baja California Sur, Mexico, studying how small-scale fishers (the gender-neutral term for fishermen) engage in conservation efforts in the Gulf of California. The Gulf of California has strong conservation and ecotourism interests, but fishing is one of the main sources of livelihoods in rural parts of the state. Using extensive interviews and participant observation, Anastasia spent the summer studying the process through which 12 communities of fishers have designed and created a network of Marine Protected Areas.

Seth Sykora-Bodie travelled to Hobart, Australia in October to participate in the 35th meeting of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources as a member of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition delegation. Seth's research focuses on the design, negotiation, and establishment of protected areas in the Southern Oceans so his time in Hobart was focused on meeting participants and building contacts for the future. 

Phillip Turner, working alongside Cindy Van Dover, spent 4 weeks this summer in Southampton (UK) implementing a risk-assessment survey. The survey assessed deep-sea stakeholder knowledge on the impacts of deep-sea mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction; the research aims to assist the International Seabed Authority (i.e., the governing body established by the UN to regulate deep-sea mining) in developing their Strategic Environmental Assessment. The work is part of the International Climate Initiative and supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Phillip also spend 1 week in Kingston Jamaica attending the 22nd session of the International Seabed Authority as a representative for the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, his time there will help in his research dissemination.

Teaching, Collaboration and Community Engagement

Liz (Schrack) Shaver, since April 2016, has been collaborating with NOAA’s Restoration Center and The Nature Conservancy’s Reef Resilience Program to put together new instructional and open-access content for coral reef managers and practitioners on coral restoration. This has included implementing an online questionnaire for coral reef managers across the globe on their interests and needs for information on coral restoration best practices; participation in a one-day invited conference on coral restoration at the International Coral Reef Symposium in June 2016, and participation and a presentation at the NOAA Workshop to Advance the Science and Practice of Coral Restoration in November 2016. This work is an interdisciplinary side project related to her dissertation that was funded by the National Science Foundation and Duke University.

Sarah Bess Jones organized the visit of Erika Weinthal for the DUML Fall Orientation in August 2016.

Maria de Oca completed her 1-year tenure as co-president of the Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI). In 2016 they completed 22 projects connecting ~150 graduate students from all departments at Duke with non-profit organizations and with their local city government. Maria is the first student from the Nicholas School to hold this leadership position.

As a community we have welcomed a number of visitors; most notably, the first two students came with their seminar speakers for the Van Dover Inclusive Graduate Education Travel Award: JP Balmonte (UNC Chapel Hill) and Virginia Fourqurean (Florida State University). In November a number of 6th grade students visited for a day of activities led by Courtney Swink, Sarah Loftus, Bailey Slagle, Melissa Duvall, Walter Torres and others.

Milestones in Life

Congratulations to Liz (Schrack) Shaver and Martin Shaver who tied-the-knot on October 10th in Leesburg, Virginia. We also congratulate Sarah Bess Jones and Jessica Zigler who brought the marine lab together on November 18th 2016 and married on the social science dock.