This is a site where the hard work of the faculty, students and staff of the Biology department at ODU will be highlighted.
The views, opinions and comments expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department, the College or the University.
Congratulations to Dr Kintzing who triumphed over personal tragedies to graduate with her PhD in Ecological Sciences in Dec 2010. Meredith joined the PhD program in 2004 under the mentorship of Dr Mark Butler. Meredith's studies involved traveling up and down the east coast from her home here in VA to her main research site in the Florida Keys where she spent the summer, or entire semesters immersed in her "lab". In addition, she was able to fit in classes, trips to scientific meetings and other exotic research sites, as well as the occasional marathon or half marathon. Currently Meredith is a post-doc in the biogeochemistry lab of Chris Martens in the Marine Sciences Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
From Meredith: Being a graduate student in marine ecology is challenging, exciting, and rewarding. As a graduate student at ODU I had the opportunity to dive the coral reefs of the Florida Keys and Belize while conducting research that addressed interesting scientific questions that also had applications to managing this resource. Like any graduate program it involved a lot of hard work, but on any given day I might see a sea turtle, manatee, or shark in addition to the invertebrates that were the focus of my research. When your “office” is the ocean every day is an adventure.
Research: Human activity has stressed the world’s oceans. Nowhere is this more evident than coral reefs, especially those of the Caribbean. Caribbean reefs began experiencing declines in coral cover in the early 1980s attributable to a number of factors including overfishing, pollution, disease, and loss of key herbivores. I am interested in coral reef communities particularly determining the causes and consequences of their decline. My research focuses on trophic interactions, or who eats whom, on the coral patch reefs of the Florida Keys. My dissertation focused on how the spotted spiny lobster altered patch reef communities. I found the spotted lobster has a broad diet that includes several important herbivorous, or seaweed eating, invertebrates. In addition to consuming herbivores, the spotted lobster also alters the behavior of herbivorous sea urchins causing them to consume less algae. This has important implications for coral reefs as algal overgrowth associate with the diseased induced die-off of this sea urchin is one of primary causes of reef decline in the Caribbean. By gaining a better understanding of how organisms interact on coral reefs we will be able to better preserve and protect them for future generations.