I am a PhD student in the Donahue Lab interested in the ecology of coral reefs and the development of new low-cost instrumentation to better study them. Before come to UH Manoa and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology I completed I graduated in 2014 from the University of California, Davis with a BSc in Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity and acquired my MSc in Biological Sciences in 2017 from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab on South Padre Island, TX. While at UC Davis I studied intertidal crab communities (Petrolisthes cinctipes) and patterns of nutrient pulses to coastal environments in Northern California. To better my science communication and understanding of public policy while at UC Davis, I also contributed to political science research at the Center for Regional Change. Our work studied disparities in voter registration across California and was later used by the White House to inform discussion on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I believe scientists have an obligation to be active civically as well as academically in their community.
In Texas I worked under Dr. Faiz Abdullah Rahman, an expert in remote sensing. Under his mentorship I gained a new appreciation for the leverage remote sensing and new instrumentation can provide to biologists. I also noticed how incredibly expensive much of this instrumentation is and the barrier such costs could represent to much-needed research. I completed by Masters by publishing a thesis which detailed A) the construction of a low-cost side scan sonar system for the mapping of at-risk seagrass habitats, and B) a method for the remote estimation of organic carbon stored beneath seagrass meadows (one of their primary ecosystem services). My thesis and resulting publications are available on my ResearchGate page.
Now under the advisement of Dr. Donahue, I am learning about a system which is new to me: coral reefs. My first year has focused on learning local Hawaiian corals, the diseases which afflict them, and the drivers which influence the spread of disease. During this first year I have also worked as part of the NASA funded “FORE-C” project aiming to forecast coral disease outbreaks in the pacific. This work has allowed me to dive often throughout Hawaii, make international connections with other coral researchers, and fast-track my understanding of coral disease. I am greatly interested in ecological modeling and forecasting, and am fortunate to have an expert in these fields such as Megan as an advisor. In truth, I have been reading her work since I was an undergraduate and consider my joining her lab the fulfillment of a long-held career goal. I am excited to be in Hawaii, and even more excited about the research opportunities which await me here in the Donahue Lab. I hope to focus my PhD on the types of biological questions which caught my interest as an undergraduate and apply my background in instrumentation to answer them in new ways.
For updates on my research and recent publications, please visit my poorly-maintained blog at www.AustinGreene.science