Early Career Training Program

The goal of this program is to give post-candidacy PhD students and postdocs an opportunity to learn a new skill such as a laboratory or field method, data analysis tool, or other skill relevant to the study of coral bleaching.

This program seeks to foster inter-disciplinary approaches in coral bleaching research. Three individuals will be selected each year on a competitive basis to work with a PI at an institution other than their own, or in a department other than their own, for about one month. Awardees will receive $2,500 toward travel, materials, and supplies. Travel expenses such as airfare, train travel, and housing will be paid directly. Per diem, materials, and supplies will be reimbursed. Awardees must have letters of support from the host institution PI and their current advisor or supervisor at the time of application submission to be eligible.  Potential PI hosts include the Coral Bleaching RCN Workshop participants, though applicants are not restricted to those individuals on the list. Successful applicants will have one year to complete the proposed activity (extensions are available to all 2020 recipients due to COVID19). All awardees will be required to participate in an online information session and submit a 2-page final report within 30 days after completing the exchange or repay the award. Any publications or presentations resulting from the Early Career Training Program are asked to acknowledge the NSF Coral Bleaching RCN and inform the Coral Bleaching RCN Director of the publication. Applicants must be post-candidacy PhD students or postdocs at a US institution and the proposed work/training must be at a US institution or facility. Applicants need not be US citizens / permanent residents. Additional application details are given on the application form.

Eligibility: Post-candidacy PhD students and postdocs
Application form: Complete this form (along with all requested documents listed in the form) as a single .pdf to Dr. Rob Toonen (rjtoonen@gmail.com).

Program Coordinator: Robert Toonen (rjtoonen@gmail.com)
Co-Coordinator: Andréa Grottoli

2022 Recipients

Matías Gómez-Corrales, University of Rhode Island, USA
Host: Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Project title: Cryptic coral lineages under thermal stress
Skill development: Learn wet-lab methods for chlorophyll and symbiont cell density as well as other photobiology laboratory methods.

Ann Marie Hulver, The Ohio State University, USA
Host: Dusty Kemp, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA
Project title: Is zooplankton feeding the underlying mechanism that enables corals resilience under ocean acidification conditions?
Skill development: Learn how to measure lipid classes in coral total lipid samples.

Emily Schmeltzer, Oregon State University, USA
Host: Maude David, Oregon State University, USA
Project title: Machine-learning techniques infer microbial community taxonomic composition of corals during thermal stress events
Skill development: deep-learning and word-embedding models of machine learning of genomic datasets to better identify viral communities of corals

2021 Recipients

Ariel Katharine Pezner, Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC-San Diego, USA
Host: Sarah Davies, Boston University, USA
Project title: Assessing the impacts of oxygen stress on coral physiology through genomics
Skill development: Learn how to collect, process, prepare, and analyze genomic information from a dissolved oxygen stress coral common garden experiment.

Khadija Haider, University of Miami, USA
Host: Hollie Putnam, University of Rhode Island, USA
Project title: Identifying biomarkers for stress resistance and susceptibility to stressors in Acropora cervicornis
Skill development: DNA/RNA extraction and next-generation sequencing library preparation for gene expression and DNA methylation

Liza M. Roger, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Host: Juan Pablo Giraldo and Rober Jinkerson, University of California – Riverside, USA
Project title: Interactions between engineered antioxidant nanoparticles (NP) of cerium oxide (CeO2 , nanoceria) and chloroplasts of symbiotic algae in reef-building corals
Skill development: : Tailoring nanoparticles to target Symbiodinium chloroplasts and in vitro testing to determine dose response and confirm delivery to the chloroplast

2020 Recipients

Carolina de Lima Adam, Bowdoin College, USA
Host: Robert Toonen, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, USA
Project title: Molecular phylogenomics of Favia gravida
Skill development: Learning the laboratory and bioinformatic skills for RAD-Seq to potentially discover loci under selection that may be associated with heat resistance

Leila Chapron, Ohio State University, USA
Host: Dustin Kemp, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA
Project title: Biological measurements to better assess the survivorship of the threatened Acropora palmata coral in Dry Tortugas National Park
Skill development: Lipid class analyses of total lipids via state-of-the-art IATRA Scan

Wyatt Million, University of Southern California, USA
Host: Robert van Woesik, Florida Institute of Technology, USA
Project title: Ecological and evolutionary implications of phenotypic plasticity in Acropora cervicornis
Skill development: Learn statistical techniques and develop workflows for large environmental and phenotypic datasets

2019 Recipients

Raúl Augusto González Pech, University of Queensland, Australia
Host: Jennifer Matthews, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Project title: Harmless refugee or dangerous invader? Identification of fitness traits that allow the subtropical coral Pocillopora aliciae to proliferate in Sydney Harbor
Skill development: wet lab physiology methods and metabolomics data analysis

Andrea Michelle Gomez, City College of New York, USA
Host, Ross Cunning, Shedd Aquarium, USA
Project title:Evaluating Coral-Symbiont Community Dynamics in Two Species of Coral from La Parguera, Puerto Rico
Skill development: qPCR methods for identifying symbiont communities, R programming and visualization

Jamie Price, The Ohio State University, USA
Host, Kelly Wrighton, Colorado State University, USA
Project title: Metagenomic analyses of the coral microbiome
Skill development: metagenomic methodologies and pipeline assemblies, bioinformatics

Rowan McLachlan, The Ohio State Unviersity, USA
Host: Dr. Nichola Allison, University of St Andrews, UK
Project title: RAMAN spectroscopy to investigate the effects of ocean acidification, ocean warming, and the combined stress on the organic matrix of Porites lobata
Skill development: RAMAN spectroscopy, ORIGIN software, skeletal microstructure